Earphones, music devices and hearing loss

How to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing damage.

January 31, 2020


You don't have to go to rock concerts to harm your hearing. Playing music at the highest volume on a smartphone or iPod can be more than 10 times louder than the recommended setting. 

Using portable devices such as earbuds and smartphones to listen to music has increased concern about hearing loss. What can you do to protect yourself and your kids from noise-induced hearing loss?

Hearing loss happens over time

The sound levels of headphones can lead to noise overexposure if used long enough. And over time, loud noises and music can damage hearing. When this happens, damage to the inner ear can be permanent.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) advises:

  • Lowering volume levels
  • Limiting listening time
  • Using earphones that block external noises

ASHA also recommends seeing an audiologist (a hearing and balance specialist) if you have warning signs of hearing loss. These include:

  • Turning up the volume on the TV or radio
  • Having painful sensations inside the ears 
  • Not hearing what people are saying in normal conversations
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Working in a noisy setting or having hobbies that expose you to loud noises

Preventive treatment for hearing loss

The Polyclinic audiology department offers complete treatment solutions for hearing loss and protection, including:

  • Hearing evaluations for patients of every age
  • Customized fitting to make sure your earphones fit properly
  • Ways to keep music focused inside the ear and keep external noises out; this helps keep the volume at safer levels

We can help you upgrade your current earbud-style headphones with custom-fit headphone adapters. This helps protect your hearing. We can also custom fit music and concert earplugs for musicians.

In addition, we can have custom adapters made for your cell phone ear pieces. This lets you use your cell phone hands-free when driving, which is in keeping with guidelines from Washington state.

To schedule a hearing test, call 1-206-860-4642.

Horizontal Rule

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.