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Are headphones better for your ears than earbuds?

Both can damage your hearing, but is one worse than the other?

apple airpods on iphone 7
Image: Unsplash

Have you ever wondered how to protect your hearing, so you don’t risk hearing loss when you are older? Some prevention methods might be easier to figure out, like wearing earplugs while at places with excessive volume levels, such as concerts or clubs. Some aren’t as easily apparent though, such as the risk of hearing damage from using headphones or earbuds.

Yes, you can damage your hearing with your headphones, especially if you prefer to crank the dial all the way up. It’s a matter of volume level and also the length of exposure, and wearing your headphones all day while at work is going to increase your chances of damage.

So, which type of headphones is healthier to wear long-term to avoid potential damage?

So, is it healthier for your ears to wear headphones instead of earbuds?

Short answer: Yes, but both can cause damage

According to Atlanta HearingDoctor, while both headphones and earbuds can crank out high decibel levels (and corresponding risk of damage), “earbuds are actually more likely to cause damage.” That’s down to a couple of factors, but mainly because since earbuds sit in the ear canal, the sound source is closer to your eardrum and naturally increases the volume levels by around nine decibels.

That might not sound much, but remember dB measurements aren’t a linear scale. Every 3 dB increase is a doubling of power, so a 9 dB increase is an eight-fold increase in effective amplifier level. Add to that the fact that a six-decibel increase also doubles the sound pressure, and you can see why earbuds that are jammed into your ear canal can damage you more easily than over-ear headphones.

What do you think? Are you surprised by this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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