You’re probably damaging your ears. Stop!

– Look around the city and
you'll notice the headphones. Everyone wears them,
usually for hours at a time. And all our moms warn us, not to listen to our headphones too loudly. But how bad is it really
for us to listen all day? How much do I really need
to worry about my ears? So of course, our moms
are right, it turns out loud music damages your
hearing but you likely won't notice any tangible
effects until it's too late. In fact, any persistent
noise effects your ears. – Can headphones cause hearing loss? Absolutely.

– That's Dr. Samantha Anne,
an ENT who specializes in pediatric care so if
you're blasting music or even podcasts all day
long, you're going to be putting your ears at risk. And you can't fix hearing loss. – Once you lose to hearing
loss because of noise exposure, there's no going back. You don't repair it,
there's no getting it back. – I called Dr. John Oghalai,
an ENT and chair at USC to learn more about how we're
all ruining our hearing. – So you can damage the sensory
hair cells in the inner ear or you can damage the nerves. The nerve that carries the sound from the hair cell to the brain. You know if you listen to
sounds that are too loud, then they die and as far as we
know, they don't regenerate. – You also probably won't
even know you're damaging your hearing because it often
happens slowly and subtly. Doctors often suggest a
hearing test to establish a baseline but I'm sure
you haven't had a recent hearing test, I definitely haven't.

The only real obvious
sign of damage is once you have ringing in your
ears, aka, tinnitus. That's not good because
that means your hearing has been significantly damaged. Plus ringing is obviously super annoying. Alright, so we're killing
our baby ear hairs and maybe damaging our
nerve endings, fantastic. But is all sound bad for us? That can't be possible, right? – If you're listening
to a really loud sound, the time you can listen to
is less or if it's a medium level sound, then you can
listen to it much longer. – He and the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration have some concrete
decibel recommendations. If you listen to something
at 85 decibels for example, you can safely do so for eight hours. This is like hearing a
garbage disposal, blender or dishwasher for eight
hours, it's not so bad. At 95 decibels, you only get
four safe hours of listening. That's slightly louder than a motorcycle that's 25 feet away. Imagine that for four hours, it's brutal. You want to almost never hear a chainsaw which can top out at 120 decibels.

Now I recognize that most of us don't think in decibel levels. I'm impressed if you do
but if you're curious, apps do exist to measure
your decibel level outputs, although, there are other ways to measure your decibel outputs
that are more abstract. – General guidelines keep
it at a comfortable level. Should not be heard around you. And then if you take it
off and you're hearing ringing or the sound is
a little bit muffled, like when you come out of
a huge concert, for example and you have that little
bit of ringing and muffled sound for awhile, that's
actually damage to the hearing. – Of course our headphones
can effect this problem too. Noise isolation, which is
when our headphones block out ambien sound because
of the seal they create can help reduce the need for louder music. Noise cancellation, which are
electronically counteracts outside noise can help to. The two taken together
might make a big difference.

– When used properly, to
lower the levels of decibels that you're playing,
noise canceling headphones are not a bad thing,
they could be helpful. – Doctor Oghalai says regular old earbuds might be the worst as does Dr. Anne. – The type of earbuds that
kind of sit in the bowl of your ear that you can
still hear outside sounds are probably in my mind, some of the worst ones you could have.

– Both agree that noise
cancellation can help, although, if you're
using noise cancellation as an excuse to tune everything out and then turn up your
music, don't do that. That's really bad. Okay, so I wanted to see how
loudly I listened to music. So we went out into the
world to see how loud New York City truly is. We used a sound level
meter to detect the outside volume level and then
looked at how I adjusted my volume on my iPhone in turn. We tested one over the ear
pair, one noise canceling, one noise isolating,
Airpods, noise canceling earbuds and on ear headphones. The subway was super loud
whenever trains were present and sometimes even
reached up to 100 decibels but it wasn't too bad when there were no trains in the station. The outside city was about
as loud as when there were no subways in the stations
but sometimes it did get a little bit louder, like
when an ambulance drove by.

And the office was always
more or less silent. Obviously, this all effected how loudly I needed to turn up my music. But all the headphones stuck
to a clear pattern of use, regardless of where I was. I had to turn my regular,
over the ear headphones up the highest as well as my Airpods. The noise isolating
headphones and noise canceling headphones really did a
good job keeping external sounds out which led me
to keep the volume lower than I had to with other pairs. But even with these noise
canceling and noise isolating headphones, the subway
station volume was nearly double that of the office. This all makes sense but
as the doctors warned, we could easily over do it with volume, especially when the headphones
are able to keep sounds out. All we can do to take care
of our ears is be mindful. Maybe give up on your vanity
and wear earplugs at concerts because you never, ever
want to hear that ringing. If you're a parent, you
can often set volume controls for your kids so they don't exceed a certain decibel level.

– It's okay to use the headphones but just be smart about it, be sensible. – Dr. Oghalai thinks the
future might actually be bright when it comes to hearing loss. Better headphone technology could reduce the amount of damage we do. – It's actually gonna get
better over our lifetimes because I think headphones
have gotten better. – If he has hope, so do I. Hey, do you have anything
you've been wondering about related to tech and myths maybe? Leave them in the comments below because we're always looking for ideas. Also, we just launched a new
averge science YouTube page that you should absolutely
go check out so go do that..

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