Headphones and hearing health: turn down the volume

It is more and more frequent to see people on the street connected to their inseparable headphones. The main telephone brands bombard us with advertising that tells us that a phone is inextricably linked to one of these devices. To the point that its use is almost a fashion accessory and when you wear them it is like saying: "Don't bother me, I'm busy with myself."

If we combine this with the confinement we have suffered during the COVID 19 pandemic, we have not stopped watching people doing sports or video conferencing with their headphones. But be careful, this situation can entail an inadvertent danger. If our auditory system is subjected to prolonged periods of time to sounds with too high an intensity, it can be irreversibly injured.

Damage to the ear

Our auditory system has the mission of transforming sound stimuli into nerve impulses through the auditory nerve so that they reach our brain, where they are processed. This is done through a complex system of ossicles and lined ducts with cells called hair cells, which in most cases are the ones that are first damaged and then end up dying, doing irreversible damage since in humans this type of cell does not regenerate, Contrary to what happens in other species, such as birds and amphibians, they do.

To give us an idea, a normal conversation usually reaches 60 decibels (dB), the noise of a motorcycle can reach 110 dB, a siren, or fireworks explosions can reach 150 dB. The sound that we hear through our headphones, if no limitation is set, can reach 110 dB or more. Something that can be highly damaging to our auditory system. There are applications on our mobile phones, which we can download, to easily measure the intensity of sounds.

In general, it is accepted that sounds above 85 dB are those that can cause damage, but we must also take into account the duration. A mnemonic rule used by specialists is that of 60/60. This means not exceeding 60% of the headphone volume for more than 60 minutes. It has been found that in-ear devices are more harmful than helmets, fortunately these are becoming more fashionable.

Harmful sounds

The injuries that the intense sound can cause to our ears are multiple. From the sudden hearing loss from an explosion or a decrease for a limited period of time, for example when we leave a rock concert or another place with a high intensity of sound. Hearing loss can be slow and added to the progressive deterioration, which in itself produces age, may make us need a hearing aid at an early age, from 35 to 50 years old instead of the 70 or 80 who would be older. normal. And all for not controlling the volume of the headphones.

Tinnitus and tinnitus

The tones that are affected earlier are the treble and later the bass. To measure hearing loss, a technique called audiometry is used. But the issue does not stop there. Tinnitus and tinnitus are noises, clicks or buzzes that we hear continuously. They can become tremendously unpleasant, you just have to talk to anyone who suffers from them to explain it to you. Furthermore, they have a bad medical solution and are sometimes difficult to control or even irreversible.

Be very careful with children and adolescents, between music and video games they can spend several hours a day with headphones, subjected to high intensity harmful sounds. There are some special devices for children on the market, with a regulated maximum intensity to avoid this type of damage.

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