Actually the answer is yes, headphones may be very damaging for your ears.
A group with the University of Leicester only just proved that sound louder than one hundred ten decibels cause harm to some particular sort nerve cell covering, which consequently could cause tinnitus (basically a buzzing or droning in the ears – and here is me thinking that it simply made everything sound ‘a little tinny’) and even temporary deafness in a number of instances.
In accordance with medical medical news today.com, that reported with the University’s findings, the myelin sheath may be a kind of outside layer that protects the nerve cells that attach the ears the brain. Any sound over a hundred decibels begins to deteriorate away this outside layer, meaning that the indicators will ultimately stop getting to the brain. Given time, the myelin sheath will usually (but not always) cure itself and reform, resulting in the damage only being temporary. Still, it’s something to think about.
As for further enduring damage, well, the facts are actually startling. Depending on TIME magazine’s Laura Blue,
“Hearing loss is more common than ever before. About 16% of American adults have an impaired ability to hear speech, and more than 30% of Americans over age 20 — an estimated 55 million people — have lost some high-frequency hearing”.
These shocking figures were proposed within the ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’ journal and firstly published in ’08. Following this publication, Blue interviewed Brian Fligor, who was, at the time, the director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston. In the interview, Fligor stated,
“If you’re using the earbuds that come with an iPod and you turn the volume up to about 90% of maximum and you listen a total of two hours a day, five days a week, our best estimates are that the people who have more sensitive ears will develop a rather significant degree of hearing loss — on the order of 40 decibels (dB). That means the quietest sounds audible are 40 dB loud. Now, this is high-pitched hearing loss, so a person can still hear sounds and understand most speech. The impact is going to be most clearly noted when the background-noise level goes up, when you have to focus on what someone is saying. Then it can really start to impair your ability to communicate”.
Therefore, the question now becomes, what are you able to do to reduce the risk?
Sam Costello of About.com suggests turning down the volume, which is fairly clear, really. However, (s)he also suggests accessing the ‘volume control’ on your iPod or device and decreasing the highest volume setting (synch it to the computer for more such options), as well as listening for shorter intervals of time and switching from earbuds to ‘over the ear’ phones. Earbuds are probably the most precarious headset type, apparently.
Just for the record, the typical Us iPod can generate about a hundred and fifteen decibels, that is reminiscent of attending a fairly loud rock concert (although not a Motorhead gig clearly – now that is a band which almost ensures total deafness for at least several days afterwards, trust me).
However, the excellent news is that when you’re within the EU, your iPod is restricted to 100db highest output by law. Even though you’re still in danger if you turn the volume all of the way up and hear all of it day long, that danger is significantly less on our side of the pond.