Hearing loss and music
Adults and children are commonly exposed to loud music. Listening to loud music through ear buds connected to devices like iPods or MP3 players or at music concerts can cause hearing loss.
The inner part of the ear contains tiny hair cells (nerve endings).
The human ear is like any other body part -- too much use can damage it.
Over time, repeated exposure to loud noise and music can cause hearing loss.
Noise induced hearing loss - music; Sensory hearing loss - music
Decibels of Sound and Hearing Loss
The decibel (dB) is a unit to measure the level of sound.
The risk of damage to your hearing when listening to music depends on:
Activities or jobs that increase your chance of hearing loss from music are:
Children who play in school bands can be exposed to high decibel sounds, depending on which instruments they sit near or play.
When at a Concert
Rolled-up napkins or tissues do almost nothing to protect your ears at concerts.
Two types of earplugs are available to wear:
Other tips while in music venues are:
Rest your ears for 24 hours after exposure to loud music to give them a chance to recover.
How to Listen to Music on Your iPod or MP3 Player
The small ear bud style headphones (inserted into the ears) do not block outside sounds. Users tend to turn up the volume to block out other noise. Using noise-cancelling earphones may help you keep the volume down because you can more easily hear the music.
If you wear headphones, the volume is too loud if a person standing near you can hear the music through your headphones.
Other tips about headphones are:
When to Call the Doctor
If you have ringing in your ears or your hearing is muffled for more than 24 hours after exposure to loud music, have your hearing checked by an audiologist.
See your health care provider for signs of hearing loss if:
Arts HA, Adams ME. Sensorineural hearing loss in adults. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 152.
Eggermont JJ. Causes of acquired hearing loss. In: Eggermont JJ, ed. Hearing Loss. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 6.
Le Prell CG. Noise-induced hearing loss. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 154.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Noise-induced hearing loss. www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed June 23, 2020.
Review Date: 4/13/2020
Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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