Prolonged earphone use can harm your hearing in the long term (see how)

Ok, we get it. It’s hard for everyone nowadays to live without their headphones. You need them to focus while studying, working out in the gym, running the office, doing household chores, or walking in the park. In short, they’re everything to you.

But did you know that using your headphones for long hours can damage your hearing and send you to an ear doctor? Oh, you bet it can.

So far, it’s caused many people their hearing, and many now rely on hearing aids from to lead a normal life.

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Image created by Market Business News.

I pray you don’t ever get to that stage. So to prevent that, we implore you to quickly glance through this post.

A true-life story: Pete Townshend Blames Headphones for Hearing Loss

Below is a true-life story as narrated by popular celebrity guitarist Pete Townshend on his hearing loss struggles.

“This very morning, after a night in the studio trying to crack a difficult song demo, I wake up realizing again—reminding myself, and feeling the need to remind the world—that my own particular kind of damage was caused by using earphones in the recording studio, not playing loud on stage.”

“My ears are ringing, loudly,” the guitarist wrote. “This rarely happens after a live show, unless The Who play a small club. This is a peculiar hazard of the recording studio.” Source: LiveScience

Clearly, this is a confirmation from a popular figure in society that our wired and wireless friends do indeed pose some risks to our hearing.

What has science got to say about this?

Of course, I don’t expect you to take Pete’s word for it. After all, he’s simply a celebrity musician and not an ear doctor.

But I bet you’ll believe the words of professional audiologists, renowned health organizations, and health practitioners.

So, let’s see what the people in the science and medical fields have to say about the subject of prolonged earphone usage.

Facts from WHO:
Facts from the US CDC:
  • An estimated 5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.”
Facts from a renowned audiologist:

According to Dean Garstecki, a Northwestern University audiologist, “We’re seeing the kind of hearing loss in younger people typically found in aging adults…Unfortunately, the earbuds preferred by music listeners are even more likely to cause hearing loss than the muff-type earphones that were associated with the older devices.”

Based on all the stated facts and the audiologist’s expert opinion, it’s clear that the earbuds and AirPods we wear nowadays are partly responsible for the hearing loss struggles prevalent in our society.

How does prolonged earphone usage lead to ear damage?

The question I bet you’re asking now is: How exactly does the usage of earphones lead to ear damage?

Well, the process happens in two ways.

Firstly, earphones can cause ear damage through the loud noises they generate. Secondly, they can do so via infections.

To identify the real cause of one’s hearing loss problem, one must undergo a hearing test at a health facility under the supervision of a qualified audiologist. Depending on the outcome of the result, one might need to get hearing aids from

Analyzing the scientific relationship between prolonged earphone exposure and ear damage

Ear damage caused by loud noises

When we play music with our earphones, sound waves (from the song) are generated. As soon as these waves reach the ear, they cause vibrations in the eardrum. From the eardrum, these vibrations are further sent down the ear channel, reaching the cochlea.

Now, inside the cochlea are thousands of small hairs. As soon as an incoming sound vibration reaches the cochlea, these hairs begin to move. The stronger the intensity of the vibration, the harder and faster the hairs will move.

You start to experience temporary hearing loss when these hairs are moved too rigorously on frequent occasions.

Ear damage caused by infections

Traditional earphones are built to surround the ear. In contrast, today’s earphones (like Apple AirPods and Galaxy Buds) are built to be inserted directly into the ear. As a result, air passage into the ear is blocked whenever the earphone is in use. Without constant air passage into the ear, there is an increased risk of infections.

Does that mean one shouldn’t wear or use earphones?

Far from it. We’d be lying if we said earphones don’t improve our overall listening experiences. They do. However, there’s a threshold where their effects become too burdensome on the eardrum.

This is why many modern smart gadgets make the conscious attempt of letting you know when you’re about to raise the volume of your music above the recommended listening threshold.

Prolonged earphone use can harm your hearing
Galaxy smartphone warning.

How to determine the level of your music volume for safe listening

Your best bet is to adhere to the recommended levels suggested by your phone or smart gadgets. Usually, the phone will tell you when you’re about to go beyond the threshold.

However, for those who may be headstrong, here’s a breakdown of different sound levels and what they sound like.

  • 20 dB: A silent study room
  • 30 dB: Soft whisper
  • 60 dB: Normal conversation
  • 70 dB: Classroom chatter
  • 80 dB: Freight train
  • 90 dB: Boiler room
  • 100 dB: Chainsaw 
  • 120 dB: Rock concert
  • 140 dB: Jet engine

For perspective, the top volume on your iPhone is 102 decibels, which is about as loud as a chainsaw. Your best bet for safety would be to keep the volume at around 70-80 percent, and not to wear them beyond a max duration of eight hours every day.

What are some preventive measures to take?

If loud earphone noises have resulted in a temporary hearing loss for you, it’s not the end of the world. You can still fix things with the right hearing aids. You can check websites like There you’ll find the best hearing aids in Toronto, hearing aids in Ottawa, hearing aids in Canada, and far beyond.

Even if you’ve sustained permanent hearing loss or know someone who has, you can also book an appointment with a qualified ear doctor or audiologist on the same website –