Earphones 101: How to Use Earphones Without Damaging Your Ears

There are a few pleasures in life that we all seem to take for granted. Being able to listen to our favorite tunes while we’re on the go seems to be one of them.

I, for one, love listening to hard rock music whenever I can, especially when I’m on that endless bus ride from home to work. It’s just me and my music. I can honestly say that I feel like I don’t have a care in the world.

Unfortunately, I noticed that after using my earphones for more than 60 minutes, my ears would start to hurt. Not only that, but my friends would always tell me that I was shouting while talking to them. That got me thinking; was listening to music through my earphones causing hearing damage?

I decided to do a bit of research to see what type of noise exposure could damage your hearing and to finally learn how to use earphones without damaging my ears.

In this article, I’m going to share some tips on how to listen to your favorite music while keeping your hearing intact!

What Are Headphones Used For?

Closeup senior woman using hearing aid

Nowadays, there are several different uses we can get out of headphones. Namely, they’re excellent for canceling out loud noise, and they let you enjoy your music to the fullest. But that’s not all.

Safety Headphones

Mowing the lawn is a noisy chore — that’s for sure. And let’s not forget how boring it is to operate lawn equipment for several hours. If you’re sensitive to loud noises and you’d like something to help you pass the time, the best solution for you is to buy a pair of safety headphones.

This ingenious invention will help you prevent hearing damage by keeping out the loud noise your mower makes and allow you to listen to some tunes while you’re at it!

Hearing Aid Headphones

For those of you with a hearing aid, you’ll be pleased to know that nowadays, most hearing aids have music settings! Obviously, a hearing aid won’t sound the same as loud headphones, but that’s precisely the point.

Hearing aid headphones will alter the gain levels on your hearing aid and balance out the volume, so you’re not exposed to dangerous decibels.

Gaming Headphones

Every serious gamer has at least one set of gaming headphones. In all honesty, using them makes the entire gaming experience much more enjoyable. However, you can imagine what damage all those shooting sounds can cause to your hearing, especially when the sound of, for example, a car exploding travels straight to your ears!

Since gamers tend to play for hours on end, their exposure to loud noise is quite high. Ultimately, it’s safe to say that they have a high risk of suffering from noise-induced hearing loss. In that case, the only safe solution is to keep the sound under 60 decibels and take several breaks in-between rounds.

Can Earphones Cause Hearing Damage?

I was devastated when I read that, yes, wearing earphones does indeed increase your chances of damaging your hearing. That is especially true if you use them as frequently as I do.

Ultimately, the volume levels and the length of your listening sessions on your earphones are what matters. For instance, if you like listening to music at high volume, then you shouldn’t wear them for a long time.

What to Do If You Experience Hearing Loss

It’s entirely possible for hearing loss to be temporary if the exposure to loud sounds is only occasional. However, frequent exposure can cause permanent damage that’s (in some cases) irreversible.

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is the first sign that something is wrong, so don’t dismiss it. It’s true that the ringing may go away on its own; however, in some cases, the damage may be severe. The best solution is to see an audiologist.

They will run a frequency response test to determine your threshold of hearing.

Tip: Before you visit the audiologist, you can find a frequency response test online and test yourself. Your results won’t be as accurate, but you may get a better idea of how severe the damage is.

No matter what the results, you should refrain from using headphones or earphones for a while. There isn’t much you can do as far as recovery goes, but you can prevent further hearing loss.

Keep in mind that hearing damage is gradual, and it can get worse.


How to Use Earphones Without Damaging Your Ears


Close-up Of A Happy Man Holding Hearing Aid

As I mentioned, the louder the volume, the less you should use your earphones. However, here is an example to help you understand what’s safe and what can cause hearing loss.

  • Sound levels of 85 decibels are safe for a maximum of 8 hours/per day.
  • Sound levels of 88 decibels are safe for a maximum of 4 hours/per day.

However, some sounds are louder than others, which means you cannot listen to them for long periods.

  • Sound levels of 105 decibels are safe for a maximum of 23 minutes/per week.
  • Sound levels of 115 decibels are safe for a maximum of 3 minutes/per week.

In any case, here are some steps you can take to prevent hearing damage.

Step 1. Switch to Headphones with Earmuffs

Headphones with earmuffs offer excellent protection since you don’t have to push them directly into your ears. Ultimately, decibels decrease depending on the distance from the source of the sound to its destination.

For that reason, headphones with earmuffs are a far better solution for you than earphones.

Step 2. Cut Down on Your Listening Time

Listening to music on earphones or headphones for more than an hour puts a strain on your ears. In fact, if you do this on a regular basis, you may experience listeners fatigue, which can cause pain in your ears.

Keep in mind that your ears are exposed to all kinds of sounds during the day, both natural and artificial.

Everyday Sound Exposure

Here is an example of everyday sounds and their volume levels:

  • Leaves rustling: approx. 20 decibels
  • Tapping on a keyboard: approx. 40 decibels
  • Talking: approx. 60 decibels
  • Stove hood extractor: approx. 76 decibels
  • Street traffic: approx. 80 decibels
  • Vacuum cleaner: approx. 85 decibels
  • Chainsaw: approx. 100 decibels
  • Rock concert: approx. 120 decibels

As you can see, even without headphones, our ears are exposed to some dangerous frequencies throughout the day.


Ultimately, everyone has their own reasons for using headphones or earphones when listening to music, gaming, or doing other daily activities. For instance, I used to always increase the volume up to eleven in order to prevent other sounds (such as noisy cars) from reaching my ears.

However, after reading up on whether or not loud noise can cause permanent hearing damage, I decided it was time to change the way I was listening to music.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean I’m going to throw out my headphones and stop listening to music altogether. The main thing I plan on changing is the sound volume and limiting my listening time.

All in all, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy your music; you just need to remember to keep the sound under 60 decibels.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

John Gurley

John Gurley

John Gurley is the Founder, CEO, and Editor At Muse Mini. He has a passion for music and headphones and loves to cover all things music!