Using earbuds increases risk of hearing loss

Before cranking up the volume in one’s earbuds people should consider the fact that if  sound exceeds 85 decibels, ear damage can become a serious risk.

If music from earbuds that are in someone’s ear is audible to an outside listener, the volume is probably too high.

Dr. Bruce Prins, biology program director and professor of biology, said one needs to be cautious with earbuds because they transfer more decibels of sound directly into the ear.

“(Using earbuds) could be a bit problematic. Part of the reason for that is that you have direct sound waves going into your ear, so the actual intensity of the waves, some predict, might be as much as six to eight decibels greater than if you had the sound absent, ” Prins said.

Daniel Brown, junior biology major, said earbuds can force ear debris against the parts of the inner ear when pushing in headphones and cautions against increasing volume to drown out other loud noises.

“You might push debris further back into your ear while pushing in your earbuds.

If you are mowing the lawn or at the gym or doing something that is loud, then you’d turn up the volume too high to drown out the outside noise and really hear the music. This, over prolonged periods, can seriously damage your ear,” Brown said.

One should also be conscious of the damage that slowly increasing the volume of whatever sound is in his or her earbuds over a single listening period can do.

Many find the music they listen to seems to get slightly quieter as time goes on, even if the volume is not being adjusted.

Sheldon Borson, senior biology pre-med major explains some of the science of how the ear has a natural coping mechanism for loud noises.

“A muscle in your ear inhibits noise that initially makes something sound as loud as it actually is. Eventually, though, your brain will tell it to lower it because it is a continuous stimuli,” Borson said.

This muscle is the stapedius. It tightens up to decrease vibration in the inner ear, which in turn dampens sounds and helps prevent damage to the ear.

While this is a normal and healthy function of the ear, one does not want to let this natural sound dampening make them increase their volume to dangerous levels.

Ears are important and complex members  of the body and it is important that people not abuse them with a volume level that is unhealthily high.

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