Are Earbuds Really More Likely to Cause Tinnitus Than Headphones?

Discussion in 'Support' started by nonickname, Mar 28, 2022.

    1. nonickname

      nonickname Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown, maybe loud music
      I have some really good earbuds and I use them to listen to lo-fi while I work. I also have headphones, but it gets pretty uncomfortable after an hour of wearing them, plus it's uncomfortable to wear them while wearing glasses. Should I look for another more comfortable headphones, or as long as I listen to music at a low volume (I avoid listening to music at loud volume as much as possible) will I be okay using my earbuds?

      I've had tinnitus since I was a teenager, but it's always been at a very low volume, so low that I forget I have tinnitus for several weeks, I usually only remember that I get it when I get the flu and it makes my tinnitus louder.

      And that makes me pretty scared of getting tinnitus louder permanently.
       
    2. ajc

      ajc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2002; spike 2009; worse 2017-18
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music - noise damage
      Sound is sound. @Michael Leigh thinks headphones, earbuds, AirPods, bone-conducton headphones and headsets are dangerous and can make you worse, where speakers don't. I don't agree with that. It's fearmongering and not based on reality.

      The danger with earbuds is that if they are not noise-cancelling ones (IEMs aka in-ear monitors), you run the risk of increasing the volume too much when you're out and about. IEMs are the best, they block outside sound and you can keep the volume low.

      change-my-mind.jpg
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Exposure to loud noise is one of the most common causes of tinnitus. The use of headphones, earbuds, AirPods and headsets are often responsible, because people are not aware they are listening to audio at too high a volume. It can also be caused by using these devices for too long a duration without giving the ears sufficient rest. An example are people that work in call centres and wear a headset for long hours and developed tinnitus. I hasten to add not all call centre employees will be affected but I have corresponded with quite a few that have been.

      If you continue using headphones or earbuds, then you risk making your tinnitus worse even when listening to audio at low volume. I say risk because not everyone with noise-induced tinnitus that use headphones, earbuds, AirPods or headsets at low volume are adversely affected but many are. I have found this to be the case with many people that have contacted me with noise induced tinnitus. Type headphones or earbuds into the search box at the top of this page and read the posts.

      To @ajc, nonickname was asking a question about headphones and earbuds. I have no desire to correspond with you and would appreciate that you do not alert me.

      Thank you,
      Michael
       
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    4. ZFire
      Movie buff

      ZFire Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      I believe, this is likely what upgraded my tinnitus into the severe category. The gym I used to frequent would always have fairly loud music playing through their speakers. I used crappy non-noise cancelling earbuds (iPhone) at maximum volume levels in an attempt to block out their music so that I could listen to my very own music... so imagine that... 2 competing music hitting me at the same time and I was going to the gym 5 days a week for 2-4 hours each day.

      Now that I look back, I’m completely flabbergasted to what I was doing. Oh well, I’ve learned my lesson. Won’t dwell on it anymore.
       
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    5. Marcuso22

      Marcuso22 Member

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud prolonged exposure to alarm system
      If that is in fact the case, then Michael someone can logically conclude that BTE or ITE sound generators can also cause more damage & worsen tinnitus in the same manner, no?

      The sound level could be set too high by the audiologist after all he/she can't hear how loud the patients tinnitus is so they fully depend on the patient whose tinnitus is subjective. In cases like mine where the tinnitus is reactive to outside sounds it becomes even more concerning since it may exasperate the tinnitus.
       
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    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hello Marcuso22,

      I have previously explained to you at considerable length, BTE (behind the ear) hearing aids and white noise generators are designed differently from headphones, earbuds, AirPods and headsets. In addition to this, they deliver audio into the ear through a narrow plastic tube that goes over the back of the ear and enters the entrance to the ear canal. At the end of the tube there is a very tiny aperture from which audio emits. I also have in-ear white noise generators MM10 that emit white noise through a very tiny hole.

      Headphones, earbuds and headsets generate soundwaves into the ear through a speaker/diaphragm which is much larger in comparison, and this can irritate the auditory system and possibly make tinnitus and hyperacusis worse for some people even when listening to audio at low volume.

      I have previously mentioned to you that my BTE and in-ear white noise generators have a volume control that I can finely adjust myself. Unlike some devices where pre-set volume levels of 1,2,3 are only available, or the audiologist sets the volume. I do not recommend these types.

      Michael
       
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    7. bobvann
      Vegged out

      bobvann Member

      Location:
      Inside the vortex
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud shit
      Depends on who you ask. I have read that there is no such thing as increasing baseline. There is only tinnitus distress. Meaning your question is irrelevant if one has truly passed the fear & habituated. Easier said then done...
       
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