In fact the answer is sure, earphones may be very harmful to your ears.
A group with the University of Leicester lately proved that noises louder than a hundred and ten intensity cause damage to some special sort nerve cell outside layer, which in turn may cause tinnitus (basically a active or whining within the ears – and here’s me thinking that it simply made everything sound ‘a little tinny’) and also temporary deafness in some instances.
In accordance with medical medical news today.com, that reported with the University’s findings, the myelin sheath may be a type of coating that protects the nerve cells that connect the ears with the brain. Any sound over one hundred decibels begins to deteriorate away this outside layer, meaning the signals will finally stop reaching the brain. Given time, the myelin sheath will ordinarily (but not always) heal itself and reform, giving you the damage only being provisional. Still, it is a thing to think about.
As for more lasting damage, well, the particulars 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 surprising stats were proposed in the ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’ journal and initially in print in ’08. Following this publication, Blue interviewed Brian Fligor, who was, at the time, the director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston. Inside the interview, Fligor said,
“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”.
So, the title now becomes, what is it possible to do to reduce the danger?
Sam Costello of About.com suggests turning down the amount, which is reasonably obvious, actually. However, (s)he also suggests accessing the ‘volume control’ on your iPod or device and reducing the maximum volume setting (synch it to the pc for more such features), and listening for shorter periods of time and switching from earbuds to ‘over the ear’ headphones. Earbuds are probably the most precarious headset type, in fact.
Just for the record, the common Us iPod can produce about a hundred and fifteen decibels, that’s equivalent to attending a reasonably loud rock concert (although not only a Motorhead gig obviously – now that is a band which just about ensures absolute deafness for at least several days afterwards, trust me).
However, the excellent news is that if you’re in the EU, your iPod is restricted to 100db highest output by law. Though you’re still in danger if you turn the volume all of the way up and listen to it all day long, that hazard is noticeably fewer on our side of the pond.