Study – Excessive Use Of Headphones Might Lead To Hearing Loss


Prolonged use of headphones might result in hearing loss problems which include ear canal infections and impacted wax issues in the ear. A recent research has revealed a correlation between continuous use of headphones and infection to the external ear canal.

A study has been conducted on a group of call center executives of a telecommunication firm. These executives are responsible for attending customer calls for resolving their service related queries. These executives use headphones on a daily basis for interacting with the customers and work in shifts of 8 hours with only 1 hour of break in between. Hence, these subjects form an ideal example for conducting this research.

There are multiple factors leading to hearing loss such as sound levels and duration of sound exposure. The executives reported issues such as external ear infection, nose and throat diseases. Hearing thresholds were investigated in the 250 Hz to 8000 Hz range, which are the frequencies important for speech perception. Results were plotted on the audiogram, which showed the hearing threshold, in decibels hearing level (dB HL) against frequency in hertz (Hz). Audiometric testing was performed using TDH-39 headphones and a bone conductor. Background noise level of the sound proof room was 30dBA.

Though the ear, nose, throat issues reported by subjects are common issues and understandable which could be caused due to continuous use of headphones. Ironically, all subjects under examination have also revealed problems such as impacted wax issues, itching, pain and tenderness in the pinna, foul odor of the ear canal, reddening of the ear canal and a feeling of fullness in the ear.

The results of this study showed that sound level intensity within the range of 0-58 dB will not cause any damage but anything above this threshold coupled with long duration of exposure can result in higher chances of permanent loss hearing.

With this study, a threshold headphone sound level was found which should be the ideal range in which the headphones sounds should be controlled. As a recommendation, the headphones should have a regular hygienic wash in line with manufacturer’s instruction to prevent any bacteria which can cause external ear canal infections. In addition, the executives who are exposed to a regular use of headphones should undergo regular medical examination on a yearly basis which could help in avoiding any overreaction to the individual in case they had already developed an ear infection.

So, if you are using headphones for a long duration, do look for above mentioned issues and should keep them in check to avoid any situation of permanent hearing loss. Have a safe sound experience with headphones!

Study link: Ear Infection and Hearing Loss Amongst Headphone Users

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