Let the music play: Turn it down or risk hearing loss

Doctor claims that it’s not something that will happen overnight, but over a period of time.


If you listen to loud music through headphones or earphones for a few hours every day, then you are at a higher risk of hearing loss.

“It’s not going to happen right away but maybe 10 or 20 years down the line,” said the Otolaryngology department’s head at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Dr M Sohail Awan, while talking to The Express Tribune.

According to a study, people who use headphones excessively are prone to suffer from hearing loss in the long run. Apart from a few reports, there is no concrete evidence that headphones or earphones can cause permanent hearing loss.

“Undoubtedly, when we use earphones the volume increases and the intensity also increases,” he said. “The maximum it can go up to is 120 decibels. If you listen to it at that high a volume for a prolonged time, then it can damage your hearing.”

Can you hear me?

Headphones and earphones are equally dangerous when it comes to listening to music at high volumes. “The sound and volume of music often fluctuates between 60 and 95 decibels, while the average is 85,” said an ENT specialist, who runs his hospital in Malir, Dr Fasiullah Mir. “Hence, users expose themselves to a higher risk of harming their hearing.”

Dr Awan was, however, of the view that earphones are more dangerous as sound resonates inside the ear.

Turn it down for what

“Using headphones or earphones to listen to loud music for an hour every day is quite safe,” said Dr Awan.

According to Dr Mir, if you listen to music at a lower volume then you can do so for hours but it might block ventilation. He said that if you block the air to your ears for a continuous period of time then there is a chance you might get an ear infection due to the closure of the ear canals.

“We receive patients complaining of ear pain a lot,” said Dr Awan. “Some of them work at call centres and have to use headphones for an eight-hour shift.”

Dr Mir said that he has treated some young people who work at call centres. He added that they suffer from lethargy and some of them have pain in their ear while others suffer from vertigo. He claimed that although there was no authentic study about the issue, many cases of people who suffered from ear-related problems worked or work at call centres.

“All we can do is advise people to not use of headphones and earphones too much,” said Dr Awan. “If they do, then the safe thing to do is listen to music at 60-60 which means at 60% of the maximum volume for 60 minutes per day.”

Hearing better

Both the experts believe that there is lack of awareness and carelessness about ear care because no one realises how important hearing is. “People are more concerned about their vision,” said Dr Awan, adding that it’s a fact that if a person losses hearing one can face more difficulties.

Hearing aid: Treat your ears better

Clean your earphone with alcohol wipes regularly

Do not use someone else’s headphones or earphones and if you do clean them clean them with alcohol wipes.

If someone has ear infection and you are using his/her earphone, you may contract ear infection too

Do not let water go in your ear. Do not wash it with water. Do not clean your ear with cotton buds after a bath and use tissue paper instead. Prevent yourself from cold.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read