Too Long, Too Loud Can Cause Hearing Loss from Earbuds, Headphones

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Many people who exercise outside or at the gym use headphones or earbuds to eliminate piped-in music or other noise. But hearing experts caution against listening for too long, with the volume too loud.

Hearing loss typically is associated with aging, but a recent study has found almost one in five people ages 19 to 29 already have some degree of hearing loss, due in part to listening to music nonstop through earbuds or headphones.

Audiologist Claire Johnson, UnitedHealthcare’s regional manager of clinical services, said there are methods of protection.

“One good recommendation or quick, easy rule that we recommend at UnitedHealthcare Hearing is a 60/60 rule,” she said, “so, limiting music to 60 minutes at a time, at 60% of the player’s maximum volume.”

Johnson said hearing loss is the third most chronic condition, with 48 million Americans experiencing some hearing loss. If you listen to music while getting exercise, Johson recommended investing in noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones.

Hearing Loss from Earbuds

Because missed or misheard signals such as car horns, alarms and other warnings jeopardize a person’s safety, Johnson advised against ignoring hearing difficulties.

“It’s really not going to resolve on its own,” she said, “and it’s going to be best handled with early intervention and early treatment.”

Johnson added that post-workout foods that contain potassium, zinc and magnesium are especially healthy for your ears.

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“Foods like bananas, spinach and yogurt can provide nutrients that are going to help maintain your hearing health,” she said. “It’s something we don’t often think about, but our inner ear is actually a really delicate organ that needs nourishing fuel as well.”

For those reluctant to see a doctor about potential hearing loss, Johnson said there’s a home screening test at uhchearing.com.

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