Do you Know about?

Earphones can cause Deafness.

High volume at which they hear music via earphone could cause deafness.

How it works

To understand how high volume affects your hearing, you need to understand how sound travels. We listen when sound travels down the ear canal and causes the eardrum to vibrate, which in turn causes three small bones in the middle ear to vibrate and amplify the sound.

The third middle ear bone vibrates against the snail shaped cochlea of the inner ear. The cochlea is filled with fluid and is lined with frequency-sensitive hair cells that convert vibrations into electrical signals going to the brain. The cells that respond to high frequency sounds are located in the outer cochlea while those for the low frequencies are located in the inner parts of the cochlea.

When exposed to loud sound these hair cells temporarily lose their function, so sound has to be made louder in order for you to hear it. These cells can recover after a single exposure, but if you overexpose them often, they end up dying. Another adverse effect of prolonged noise exposure is tinnitus or a ringing in the ear, which people experience when they are away from the source of the noise.

In fact, research suggests that the modern earphones that are used a lot more than the muff-type headphones, are a lot worse for one’s ears as the speaker pods are placed directly into the ear and they can boost the sound signal by as much as six to nine decibels. This, of course, does not mean that you can’t enjoy music. Just observe a few rules and you can enjoy all the music you want and maintain your ability to hear.

  • Don’t listen to music with earphones for more than an hour a day. Keep the volume at 60 per cent of the total volume.
  • Rest your ears after long sessions with earphones to avoid “listener’s fatigue” and to fight the temptation to turn up the volume.
  • Avoid wearing earphones during exercising as the exercise diverts blood from the ears to the limbs, and leaves the inner ear vulnerable to damage from loud sound.

The writer is an ENT Consultant at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.

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