- Is it safe to use earphones or headphones? In either case is there a stipulated time frame during a day or night it can be used in terms of number of hours?
Everywhere you look, people walking on the streets, while commuting by the metro or cab, while working out etc. people are always using headphones or earphones that are connected to their mobiles or portable listening devices. It is not unsafe to use earphones or headphones. It is the volume of the music played on these devices that causes harm and damages the ear.
Individuals commonly speak at 60 dB and music should be played at a maximum of 😯 dB, and never exceed 85 dB or more. The volume of music played should be at 60% volume maximum and no more.
The damage caused to the ear depends on the level of volume the ear is exposed to and for how long. Exposure to noise levels of 100 Db is extremely harmful for more than 15 minutes. However, irrespective of the noise level, it is recommended to use earphones/headphones for not more than an hour at a stretch
- Have you seen any cases of patients coming to you due to damage to their ears due to excess talking over the phone, constant listening to music?
Yes, we receive patients having hearing damage due to prolonged mobile phone usage predominantly in the younger age group. The main reason for this is due to exposure of the ear to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. The heat emitted by the phone can add to the damage. There are two main factors that play a role in the effect of mobile phones on hearing capability;
- History of use: The total time period that a person has been using mobile phones
- Duration of use: Daily usage by an individual. Talking for more than 60 minutes daily or listening to music with loud volume more than 60 minutes daily can affect hearing in the long run.
- How good or bad is use of Wireless Bluetooth Earphone?
With the apple ear pods becoming a sensation now, a lot of people have been enjoying the convenience of wireless earphones because they are hands free. Bluetooth earphones are considerably better because they emit far less radiation than mobile phones in itself. However the level of noise the ear is exposed to is always the concern.
- Can you list the damage to ears and advised treatment due to excess use of devices and listening to constant music on loud blaring voice?
Loud blaring music causes noise induced hearing loss. When the ear is exposed to extremely loud music, the nerves in the brain are damaged. Noise induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent depending on the level of noise exposure. One must be able to identify if a situation or place is noisy enough to be avoided. If you are required to shout to be heard or if the background noise makes your ear ache, you must ensure that you move away from the place. There is a direct relation between the level of noise you are exposed to and the duration of the same. The greater the exposure, greater the damage.
Loud noise or music can also put an individual at the risk of experiencing Tinnitus, a ringing sound in the ear which causes irritation. This is a sign that nerve damage has occurred. In some cases the condition only lasts for some time while in other cases, the condition becomes permanent.
Upon experiencing anything unusual, one should make it a point to immediately consult an ENT in order to understand the reason/cause for the unusual occurrences. While there is no specific treatment for noise induced hearing loss, the specialist may be able to recommend possible actions to be taken.
- Any specific trends in the UAE that you would like to share and which age group patients are visiting you more frequently?
Current trends in the UAE show more and more people own smart phones. This is rather significant compared to 15 years back. Reasons for owning the device may vary, it could be for work, leisure or even exercise, and mobile phones have become an integral component of one’s daily life. Even young children today have access to mobile phones. So, greater awareness needs to be created about the potential adverse health impacts associated with their overuse.
In my daily practice, I mainly encounter patients in the age group 20-35 years who have hearing problems attributable to excess mobile phone use. This is either in the form of Tinnitus (ringing or whistling noise in ears) or High frequency hearing loss. By curbing prolonged mobile phone use, further deterioration in hearing is prevented. Patients are also counselled on safe volumes at which they should be listening to music on their mobiles. We recommend the 60/60 rule which is keeping the volume at no more than 60 percent and listening for no more than 60 minutes. before taking a break.
Specialist ENT Surgeon