Headphones and Hearing Health

Listening to personal media players with headphones is common among younger adults regardless of sex, race/ethnicity, or income. The effects of loud sounds are cumulative, and hearing problems may occur many years after the exposure begins. Personal music players, such as smart phones, iPods® and MP3 players can produce very loud sounds. Listening at high volumes, even for short durations, can cause hearing problems. Hearing loss can make these every day activities difficult:

  • Talking with friends, family or coworkers
  • Talking on the phone
  • Listening to music, going to the movies, watching television

Nearly one out of four adults aged 18 to 44 who report heavy headphone use say they have hearing problems(PDF), and are more than twice as likely to report hearing problems than those who report light-to-moderate use or no use of headphones.

Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable. In an effort to protect against hearing loss, the Health Department encourages headphone users to

  • Reduce the volume, limit listening time, take regular breaks and never listen at maximum volume.
  • Know the early signs of hearing loss and ask a doctor for a hearing test if they have trouble hearing conversation, need to turn up the volumes on TV, radio or personal music players or experience ringing in the ear

For more information, see Headphones and Hearing Health Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).