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Heavy Use of Earbuds Could Trigger Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

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Monday, August 8, 2022   

Many people are returning to recreational activities they suspended during the pandemic, and hearing experts warn cranking up music using earbuds can lead to hearing loss.

Dr. James Lewis, associate professor of audiology and speech pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, said many people listen to music while they are running a lawn mower or exercising in a loud gym. He explained listening to music over loud background noise can set the stage for ear damage.

"That's pretty hazardous," Lewis stressed. "Because what you tend to do when you're in a noisy environment, and you're trying to listen to your music through headphones, you tend to really increase the volume of your headphones, putting yourself at greater risk."

One in eight people in the United States 12 years or older has experienced hearing loss in both ears, according to Data from the National Institutes of Health.

He pointed out while many people are aware high-pitched tinging or buzzing is a warning sign of potential hearing loss, it is lesser known constant fatigue can also foreshadow a hearing problem.

"Especially if you know during the day you're in these environments where you really have to focus on listening," Lewis noted. "When you have hearing loss, that can cause you to exert greater effort in trying to understand what's going on. And that can have this kind of tiring effect as you go throughout the day."

Claire Johnson, manager of clinical services for UnitedHealthcare and an audiologist, said there are reminders to ensure you are not causing damage.

"One good recommendation or quick, easy rule that we recommend at UnitedHealthcare hearing is a 60/60 rule," Johnson outlined. "Limiting music to 60 minutes at a time at 60% of the player's maximum volume."

The Centers for Disease Control said the use of hearing aids is on the rise among people age 45-64, as well as among those 65 and over.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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