Technology and Hearing Loss

Spending your life plugged into your iPod may make you feel like dancing in the streets, but it can take a toll on your ears. Earbud use can cause hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The sensitive hair cells in your inner ear never grow back once they have been damaged.

  • The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that about 15 percent (26 million) of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have a reduced capacity to hear high frequency sounds because of exposure to loud sounds.
  • A 2005-2006 study published in the Journal of American Medicine in 2010 reported that 19.5% of American adolescents aged 12 to 19 suffered from hearing loss. That’s a jump of one-third from the numbers reported in 1988-1994. Some of that increase may be attributable to earbud use.

Solutions and Prevention

  • Turn it down. If other people can hear the music from your earbuds or headphones, the music is loud enough to damage your ears.
  • Limit exposure. Brief exposure to the loudest sounds can cause damage, but even more moderate noise experienced on a regular basis can lead to damage. According to an article from Stony Brook University School of Medicine, just one hour a day of listening to your earbuds at level four could cause permanent damage.

 --Liz Soltan