Esther Fogel

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects people of all ages and is considered one of the most common occupational and recreational hazards in the U.S. As many as 17 percent of teens ages 12 to 19 and one in four adults are thought to have early signs of NIHL, which is permanent. The risks depend on both the intensity and the duration of the noise — the louder the noise, the less time it takes to cause damage. Luckily, NIHL is almost always preventable, especially when loud events, such as weddings, sporting events, construction sites, and concerts, can be anticipated.

But now there’s another culprit: headphones. As earbud-wearing youngsters and adults commute to school and work daily, they may unknowingly be contributing to their own noise-induced hearing loss. The good news? We’re not powerless, and precautions go a long way.

The most obvious defense is to simply turn down the volume. Many devices have a volume limit that can be preset, and some headphones even have their own volume control, which can be used to lower the volume even further. The right headphones can make all the difference. Headphones that sit over your ear, as opposed to earbuds that are inserted into your ear, can increase the distance between the sound and the eardrum, providing critical protection for your hearing, especially in the long run.

Furthermore, using noise-canceling headphones will drown out external sounds and background noises so that the volume you’re streaming doesn’t have to be so high. Musicians and avid music-listeners who are always plugged in may want to consider custom-made earbuds for this reason. Lastly, take listening breaks to avoid long durations of noise exposure. Follow the 60/60 rule. Listen at 60% of your device’s maximum volume and take breaks every 60 minutes.

Teach your children the importance of avoiding music that’s too loud, too close, or lasts too long. A good rule of thumb for setting your child’s headset volume is that if the parent can hear the music from a distance or if the child cannot hear the parent calling his or her name, the music is too loud. As always, set a good example by protecting your own hearing, and be sure to include routine hearing exams as part of your family’s primary and preventive care. 

Comprehensive Audiology is located at 261 Broadway in Lynbrook. Appointments can be made by calling 516-387-4000 or emailing info@comprehensiveaudiology.com. Follow us on Facebook, Linkedin, Google, or Instagram @comprehensive_audiology, or visit ComprehensiveAudiology.com.

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