Are earbuds, headphones causing hearing damage?

CHARLOTTE — AirPods, earbuds and headphones are raising major concerns about hearing damage.

One of the biggest questions many have raised impacts people of all ages -- from children to adults.

Are we listening too long and too loudly?

Some studies show that by the time people reach their 40s or 50s, most are already experiencing some level of hearing loss.

Using earbuds could contribute to hearing damage.

Channel 9 spoke to eye and ear surgeon Dr. Elliott Kozin, who said AirPods and earbuds are becoming almost an addiction and can come with some dangers.

“If you listen to sound, whether it’s music or conversations that are at a really loud level, it can cause long term hearing loss. So I think as long as you’re aware of that, you can take preventative steps,” said Kozin.

Doctors said the first step to take is to lower the volume. Some apps even have controls you can set for volume limits or notifications if the volume is too loud.

If you are experiencing headaches or ringing in the ears from listening to music, doctors say that’s a sign to lower the volume.

“Anything that’s closer to your inner ear or eardrum might be more detrimental because you’re essentially blocking out all the other sounds and can make it much louder,” said Kozin.

Channel 9′s Deneige Broom spoke to students who admitted that they constantly use headphones and don’t always monitor the volume.

“I’m kind of nervous in like 50 years I’m going to be deaf,” one student told her.

Kozin said parents should monitor listening time for their children, just as much as screen time.

“As parents we often think about screen time, the amount of time you’re allowing your child to look at a screen. You could almost think about it like ‘hear time’ as well: how much time do they spend with earbuds, AirPods, or other headphones around their ears,” said Kozin.

Dr. Kozin also suggested using speakers during virtual meetings or if you’re working from home. He said it’s important to take ear health seriously.

Doctors say anything above 85 decibels is a possible threat to hearing.

For context, a vacuum cleaner is about 75 decibels, a lawn mower 90 decibels, a school dance 100 decibels, and a chain saw about 105 decibels.

Experts say if you have to raise your voice to be heard, it’s a risky situation. While a couple of minutes of exposure isn’t a problem, more than that could cause permanent damage.

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