With the invention of Walkmans, then Discmans, and now iPods and other digital music players, headphones have become a part of everyday life. People wear them on the bus, in the gym, and walking down the street. But the volume that you keep the music at will affect more than your enjoyment of the music in the moment – it can affect your hearing over the short and long term.
Loud Music Can Damage Your Hearing
We know that any noise over 110dB can cause temporary hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). But new research is revealing the damage that happens in the ears that causes hearing loss.
Damaged Nerve Cell Coating
When noises around us are too loud – like when the volume on your headphones is turned up too high – the coating on the nerve cells in your inner ear can get damaged. A study by researchers at the University of Leicester in the UK showed that compromising this coating leads to temporary hearing loss.
Signals Can’t Travel From Ear To Brain
These nerve cells are used to carry electrical signals from the ears to the brain. The coating on these cells is called the myelin sheath, and this coating helps the signals travel along the cells to the brain. Loud sounds over 110dB can strip the myelin sheath coating from the cells, making it harder or impossible for the electrical signals to travel between the ears and the brain.
Temporary Hearing Loss Can Be Restored
The good news is that even when it is damaged, the myelin sheath coating can reform if it is given time to heal. This means that temporary hearing loss can be restored.
Too Much Damage Can Cause Permanent Hearing Loss
However, if the music is too loud for too long, the myelin sheath will not have an opportunity to regenerate. Or, you could do more damage to the nerve cells, so that they won’t be able to heal.
Get Your Hearing Tested Today
If you or someone you know listens to loud music on their headphones, or has had recent hearing loss or ringing in the ears, visit an experienced audiologist to determine if the hearing loss is temporary or permanent, and what you can do to hear better again.