Are Ipods and Other Audio Devices Making You Deaf?

Several research studies have proven that this is true. Listening too much Ipod (or any other ear device) can lead to considerable hearing loss within a year or two. This hearing loss may be enough to put you on hearing aids, especially if the exposure is high.

Why Does This Hearing Loss Occur?

All of us have been listening to music since years. Such medical threats were never reported earlier. Then what has suddenly changed?

What has changed is the way the sound is delivered to our ears. Ipods and iphones deliver the music straight into our ears, directly thrusting the sensitive hair cells of the ear.

The inner ear has hair cells, which are sensitive to sound vibrations. They convert the sound vibrations into electric impulses and send them to the brain via the auditory nerve.

These cells have delicate hair like strands, called stereocilia. These stereocilia get torn in due course of time as we age up. However too loud sound especially for a long period of time can prematurely damage these cilia thereby resulting in hearing loss.

These cells cannot grow back once damaged, so the hearing loss may be permanent.

Types of Hearing Problems Encountered With Ear Devices

  • Frank hearing loss, which is permanent
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears may result from prolonged exposure to loud sound
  • Health problems like hypertension
  • High frequency hearing loss– This is common in mobile users, who talk more than an hour per day. Patients facing this problem find it difficult to hear consonants such as t, f, z or s.

Preventive Steps to Be Taken

  • Limit the duration of listening music or talking on phone with ear buds. The longer the period of use, the greater are the chances of damaging hair cells of the ear.
  • Avoid listening to music at high volumes. Keep the volume as low as possible, it’s good for your ears. Most of the devices provide increasing the volume up to 100db. This is too high. A single exposure to this volume via an ear device can be very damaging.
  • Follow the 60/60 rule – which states that the maximum use of an ear device may be at 60db for 60 minutes. Then take a break to let your ears have rest and recover.
  • Ear buds, which come with most of the devices these days, are more damaging than over-the-ear headphones. It would be better to use headphones when you have an option.