Can Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

Can Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

by | May 24, 2021 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Headphone use is becoming a more prevalent cause of noise-induced hearing loss, especially with the younger generations.

People often wear headphones while working, traveling, and making phone calls. In doing so, they are essentially walking around with two loudspeakers directly in each ear for many hours every day.

The most consequential problem we face with headphone use is that there is no regulation on how loudly people listen to them and, generally, people listen to unsafe levels.

An example of the impact this issue is having was evident during a recent hearing assessment. A concerned parent brought her 12-year-old in for a hearing exam, at which time it was discovered that the child had what we call a “noise notch,” meaning there was hearing loss at 3000 and 4000 Hertz.

Noise exposure has a very characteristic shape to it on the audiogram, primarily affecting 3000 and 4000 Hertz at initial exposure and gradually including neighboring frequencies as the damage progresses.  It was alarming to see how much impact constant headphone use was having on this young patient.

Headphones typically have a maximum volume that can damage your ears, even when used for a short period of time.  My recommendation for headphone use is not to exceed 70% of the maximum volume capability and minimize the length of time they are used.  If someone else can hear your headphones while they are in your ears, they are too loud!

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One of the biggest problems with noise exposure is that it is cumulative over a lifetime.  Noise-induced hearing loss does not simply go away when the noise is removed.  

When I ask patients if they have a history of hearing loss, nearly all of them say that they were exposed to loud noise in their younger years.  Unfortunately, they do not realize our hearing does not repair itself over time.

Even one instance of loud noise exposure, like a gunshot, can cause permanent hearing loss.

If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s hearing, the first step is to visit one of our physicians or audiologists. We will conduct a comprehensive hearing assessment and help you understand how to protect your hearing best going forward.

If you are ready to schedule a hearing assessment with our experts at North Houston Hearing Solutions, please call 281-444-9800.

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Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry in 2003, and earned her Doctorate of Audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a preferred provider for the American Institute of Balance (ABI), a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA) and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association. In addition to her years of experience identifying, diagnosing and treating all types and degrees of hearing loss, and vestibular disorders, Dr. Brooks has spent the last 13 years becoming an expert in Tinnitus management and therapy. Dr. Brooks is also one of the few providers in the country certified for Lyric Implantable Devices. For over seven years, Dr. Brooks successfully ran and operated more than six audiology clinics for one of the largest practices in the state of Texas before joining the North Houston Hearing Solutions team in 2016. Dr. Brooks prides herself on providing her patients with the highest quality of care. She loves her patients dearly and feels so fortunate that she gets to help improve their daily lives. This love, combined with her impressive skill set, business experience and passion for helping people hear has made Dr. Lacey Brooks a wonderful addition to the North Houston Hearing Solutions’ team. When not at the office, Dr. Brooks enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, family, and friends. Dr. Brooks is also very involved in her church and with mission work in her community and abroad.

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