Listening to loud music on your earplugs can lead to permanent hearing loss. Mom Berlin and MakatiMed’s ENT Center offer easy ways to enjoy your playlist for years to come.
We have three teenagers and every day on our way to school and home, they have their earbuds in their ears. My mother would often remind them to remove it as it can affect their hearing. Sadly, though, the boys wouldn’t believe their elders.
Just recently, I heard the story of Mark McGrath and Huey Lewis. These two are rock stars, and at the height of their music careers, both had top-selling albums and jam-packed live tours across America and the world. McGrath, the lead singer of alternative rock group Sugar Ray, is the voice behind popular ‘90s songs “Every Morning” and “Someday.” Lewis, on the other hand, fronted the ‘80s band Huey Lewis and the News, sang pop hits “Hip to be Square,” “Do You Believe In Love,” and “The Power of Love.”
Today, both singers are going deaf. This is a consequence of being regularly exposed to loud music during their heyday as rock stars. “It’s years and years and years of being on the road and being two feet in front of cymbals and drums, (high) frequencies,” said McGrath to Daily Mail TV. Lewis, who was diagnosed with the inner ear disorder Meniere’s disease, told Vanity Fair “I can’t hear music. It’s hard enough to hear the speech. But music is impossible. The music is cacophony for me, and now my hearing fluctuates.”
We don’t have to be in a rock band to lose our sense of hearing. Many of us are guilty of listening for hours to our favorite songs on full blast through earbuds plugged to our smartphones. Starting with a tolerable level, we slowly pump up the volume once our ears become desensitized by loudness. Before we know it, we’re experiencing temporary hearing loss.
Temporary hearing loss is a condition that affects the quality of our hearing for a short period. Repeated, long-term exposure to blaring music can give us tinnitus, the annoying ringing in the ears. It can also damage part of our inner ear to the auditory nerve, which carries information about sounds to our brain), resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Once we lose our hearing, there’s no getting it back. The top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through its ENT Center, suggests ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss while still enjoying your favorite tunes.
Lower the volume
“The best way to avoid noise-induced hearing loss is to decrease the volume of what you’re listening to,” Joseph Ray Richard R. Cedeño, MD, points out. How to know when loud is too loud? “If you’re listening to music on your earbuds or headphones and can’t hear what a person talking to you from arm’s length is saying, then that’s too loud,” he says.
Limit your listening time
“Instead of listening to loud music for hours on your earbuds, take breaks every 30 minutes to allow your ears to rest,” says Dr. Cedeño. “You can also observe the 60-60 rule: Don’t go over 60 percent of the maximum volume for any longer than 60 minutes.”
Invest in the right earbuds or headphones
“Noise-canceling earphones block out external sounds that interfere with your music,” says Dr. Cedeño. “With these type of earphones, you don’t have to increase the volume of your smartphone because your favorite songs will sound clearer.” Consider using over-the-ear headphones instead of in-ear or ear-plug-style models, too, says. “Over-the-ear headphones put distance between your inner ear and the speaker, sparing you from too-loud music,” Dr. Cedeño explains.
Care for your ears
On its own, the ear is a self-cleansing organ that produces wax to prevent dust and harmful particles from getting into its inner parts. Still, it helps to treat it with tender loving care. “Instead of cotton swabs, use a damp towel to gently clean excess wax around the canal,” says Dr. Cedeño. “Towel-dry your ears after showering or swimming, as too much moisture in the ears attracts bacteria, which could attack the ear canal. If water gets into your ears after a dip in the pool or beach, simply tilt your head to the side and tug at your ear lobe to let the water out.”
“Exercise is also a good way to keep our ears in shape,” he adds. “Cardiovascular workouts like running, walking, and cycling get the blood pumping to all parts of the body, including the ears, keeping them healthy and working well.”
Is your music making you deaf?
This mother will not wait for her boys to complain of any hearing difficulty. I, myself, have Meniere’s disease and I just don’t like it when I feel too dizzy because of my hearing imbalance. Likewise, the annoying ringing in my ears is just too much for my boys to suffer as well. Might relay to them the story of Mark McGrath and Huey Lewis and hopefully, they listen this time.
Momi Berlin Directory
Devoted. Compassionate, Instinctive. Berlin loves to write personal narratives, thrilling discoveries, and mommy tips that make daily living the happiest. She shares the small house with her husband and their five boys.