Can One Still Listen to Music (Headphones) with Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Bassman35, Oct 30, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. Bassman35

      Bassman35 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/22/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Airbag
      Hello, I'm new to the community. I was in a car accident last week Saturday and the airbag felt like a pirate cannon, flashgranade, and 2 shotguns going off in your ear all at once; It was horrible. ever Since I've had a slight high pitched ringing in my right ear, I can't really notice it unless I focus or plug my ear. But my question is. After some time would it still be okay to ware headphones. I think earbuds are risky. Please and think you.
      Ps. I know I've heard of some people with tinnitus that hear noises that are unbearable and I don't want to offend anyone with my minor or probably not tinnitus.
       
    2. Jason C

      Jason C Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      29 May 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Burgler Alarm
      I dont think headphones are a good idea at all especially since I have T now (not from headphone use)

      I would give it time, avoid loud noise for a month or so and see if your t subsides, also get a hearing test with a good ent too get an idea of your hearing.

      Finger crossed for you.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    3. gotyoubynuts

      gotyoubynuts Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/1990
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
    4. MikeL1972

      MikeL1972 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      3/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Uknown
      Hi Bassman,

      If I were you, I would put away earphones, headphones, and earbuds.

      Even if any and all ringing were to go away tomorrow, I still would not use the above!
       
      • Agree Agree x 3
    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      No headphones are safe @Bassman35 and if I were you don't use them even at low volume. Please click on the link below and read all the posts in the thread to find out the reason why headphones can be dangerous for people that have tinnitus. Many people have contacted me that have tinnitus and habituated, and gone back to using headphones at low volume and their tinnitus has become worse. There is always a risk.
      Michael
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/used-headphones-to-watch-a-show.18299/#post-212482
       
    6. lolkas

      lolkas Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/06/2016 ?
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Don`t know
      I disagree. if you use open back style headphones on low volume - never ever ever you will damage your hearing, because music to you sound like a whisper. Now with earplugs same story, however you need good high quality ones, like SHUE e125 or something like that. first of all they have passive noise reduction of up to -37db, which means you can listen to music on very low and hear most of it fantasticallt fine and that would be waaaayy below levels that could potentially worsen your situation. thats simply it.

      Now with all above, you must give your ears rest constantly. dont listen 4h in a row even on low. give your ears break every hour or so. make sure all of the devices you are using have volume preset on low or off so that you wont accindentaly crank it up!

      Be safe and smart!
       
    7. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      It is not a matter of damaging your hearing it is the possibility of making the tinnitus worse. Some people with tinnitus are not affected by headphone use but there is always the risk. Knowing how awful this condition can be when it's loud and intrusive, any right thinking person with tinnitus would give headphones a wide berth.
       
    9. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      It seems nobody can explain the "thou shalt not use headphones" commandment.

      It goes against what all ENT doctors, audiologists, and neurotologist have told me, so I'm really curious about the reasons (not anecdotal evidence) behind this statement. They've all told me I could use headphones, as long as the volume was kept to a reasonable level (which is what I've been doing so far). They've actually encouraged music listening & creation with them.

      It also goes against logic that dictates that the ear drum is sound-origin agnostic, when it comes to the pressure waves that hit it. It does not care what their origin is, and neither does the whole chain downstream from it (middle ear, inner ear, etc). It's the actual wave that matters, not how it got generated. At least that seems logical to me, given the knowledge I have about physics of sound.

      Some seem to think speakers should be used instead of headphones (I see this often repeated in this forum), but they don't seem to realize that a headphone is a speaker too. It's simply a much smaller speaker, because it doesn't need to put out that much power, given that it sits real close to the ear drum.

      Common sense dictates that if you've just insulted your hearing apparatus, you give it a bit of a rest by avoiding louder sounds, whether they come from a headphone, a tower speaker 10 feet away, or an orchestra on a stage in front of you. It's not the delivery method that matters, it's the sound level, in my opinion of course.

      So, if there is an explanation for this axiom, I'd love to hear it (pun intended, of course).
       
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    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      To readers of this thread that might be curious about headphone use. I am counselling someone at the moment, who was told by her Audiologist to listen to music through headphones at low level as it would help her tinnitus and hyperacusis. Unfortunately, the tinnitus became worse. I have often said, health professionals know about the anatomy of the ear but many of them know nothing about tinnitus having never experienced it. I am not saying it is a prerequisite, to experience intrusive tinnitus to know how it can affect people but it helps in my opinion.

      My Audiovestibular consultant, whom I have a lot of respect for once told me: "You know more about tinnitus than me because I've never experienced it". I believe health professionals are not aware how sensitive the auditory system is after noise trauma. As I've previously said, some people with tinnitus use headphones without any adverse effects.

      Many things can cause tinnitus, so my advice is for people whose tinnitus was caused by exposure to loud noise, which is the most common cause of tinnitus and hyperacusis. If you decide to use headphones be very careful.
      Michael
       
      Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
    11. Greg Clarke

      Greg Clarke Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Wicklow, Ireland
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2006
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, Live Music
      I listen to music on a nightly basis on headphones at reasonable volume. I've tinnitus 10 years and have had no ill effects.


      I have to say I'm always disappointed at how negative the forum can be when some people are trying to get a little enjoyment out of life. Especially at hard times.

      I appreciate some people have extremely bad tinnitus but to advise people not to go to the movies or listen to a little bit of music is extreme.


      To the original poster, listen to music on your headphones my friend. Anything that gives enjoyment distracts from tinnitus. Maybe listen to a song or two at sensible volume first and see how you go, get comfortable with it. You'll be fine.
       
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    12. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      I have had tinnitus for 20 years and it varies in intensity from: silence, mild, moderate, severe and extremely severe. I occasionally take clonazepam to help when it reaches severe levels. I am also an optimistic person and believe one should try and live life to the full. I recently wrote a post in reply to a question someone asked in the forum.

      Is a spike in tinnitus caused by loud always permanent?

      I don’t think there is a definitive answer, because tinnitus is a complex condition and if hyperacusis is also present it can complicate matters further. Some people habituate to tinnitus but their hyperacusis hasn’t fully cured and this can cause tinnitus to spike.

      When a person first develops tinnitus and it was caused by loud noise they have to be careful in future. Tinnitus can and does spike for many people and this is not necessarily caused by loud noise or sounds. After a while it usually returns to baseline or into its normal rhythm. Danger can present itself after a person habituates and the tinnitus has reduced to mild or moderate levels for most of the time. If one isn’t careful, it can be easy to forget and slip back into the old lifestyle of: listening to music through headphones. Attending clubs, concerts and the cinema where sound levels can be quite high.

      I believe a person with tinnitus should attend clubs, concerts and the cinema if they want to, providing they use noise-reducing earplugs to protect themselves. However, one should remember that nothing is one hundred percent safe. My advice is to stay clear of large standing floor speakers and if you’re at a concert don’t go to near the front stage where the music is likely to be booming out at high sound levels.

      In many instances people will get a warning when visiting these places. If the decibel levels are too high their tinnitus might spike. Usually the tinnitus will return to baseline. However, some people do not pay attention to these warnings and continue to subject their ears to loud sounds and think they are perfectly safe because they are wearing earplugs. Under these circumstances the tinnitus might spike again and this time it might become permanent. I am saying might because nothing is for certain. In my opinion a person with tinnitus needs to follow the warnings their auditory system and tinnitus is telling them.

      Regarding headphones. Many people have contacted me after they have habituated to tinnitus and returned to using headphones and listened to music through them at low volume. All of them have noticed an increase in their tinnitus. Some of them noticed their tinnitus spiked but carried on listening to music through headphones and then the tinnitus increased to a higher and more permanent level. It must be said that some people with tinnitus use headphones and have no adverse effects and that is perfectly fine. My opinion on this is, anyone that has tinnitus shouldn’t listen to any type of audio through headphones even at low level.

      It saddens to say, if a person doesn’t heed the warning signs their auditory system and tinnitus is telling them, then they will eventually feel because tinnitus is very unforgiving. It is fine when some people are telling others what they want to hear: "listen to music through headphones because life is for living".Go to the club as often as possible you’re safe with earplugs. If your tinnitus increases you will be the one that will be in the suffering.

      I have read many posts in tinnitus talk, where people had habituated and the tinnitus is low. They returned to listening to music through headphones and clubbing during the week and weekends. Some are now regretting this because their tinnitus has increased and they are in distress. Just because a person habituates doesn't mean they can forget everything and carry on in some instances recklessly. You can of course do this but my advice is to do things in moderation and not to excess, because the end result is often returning to ENT for help and visiting tinnitus forums because you are unable to cope.
       
    13. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Thank you for your post Michael, but this is unfortunately just an anecdotal evidence.

      Don't you think she would have suffered the same fate if she had listened to the same sounds through a speaker rather than a headphone (configured such that the same sound waves hit her ear drums)?

      I think there is some confusion between the what (music, sounds) and the how (headphones, speakers). In my opinion, blaming the delivery method (the how) rather than the what does a disservice to the T community as it demonizes a tool that can be useful, while distracting away from the real causes of possible spikes/deteriorations.

      So again, if there is a reason backed by logic or science, I'd love to hear it.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      I don't believe so Greg. As I've mentioned many times in this forum, many people have contacted me that have used headphones at low level and their tinnitus has become worse. There are many posts in this forum from people reporting the same. It is also true not everyone with tinnitus is adversely affected by headphone use. I am an Audiophile and before the onset of my tinnitus 20 years ago, used to listen to music through high quality headphones although not exclusively.

      In my opinion, there is difference listening to music through headphones compared to listening to music that is delivered by speakers at some distance away. With headphones, the music only has one direction to go and that is down the ear canal and hits the ear-drum and cochlear etc. Music from a speaker, the sound waves are absorbed and reflected before hitting the ear drum; it is not a direct sound as when using headphones. However, one still has to be careful of loud sound.

      The lady in question had no problems listening to her radio or music system with speakers. I will never forget the evening she phoned me and was in a vey emotional state. Following the advice from her Audiologist and listening to music through headphones, at low level that made her tinnitus and hyperacusis more intrusive.

      In 2008 my tinnitus increased to insurmountable levels and it took 4 years to habituate for the 2nd time in 20 years. I am unable to use a computer in the conventional way. Whether it's a laptop or desktop tower, they have to be placed in one room and I use a wireless keyboard, mouse, and monitor in another room. If I use a laptop or decktop PC in the normal way, withing 2 days my tinnitus reaches excruciating levels. It is so severe, I have to take clonazepam and go to bed and hope it calms down. I have met other people with severe tinnitus that are also affected by near-field computer use and have done the same as me. My hearing therapist has tinnitus patients that are affected by near-field computer use.

      Some people say the EMF (electro magnetic field) emitted my all computers affects the inner ear in some people with tinnitus and causes the intensity to increase. EMF from a computer affecting some people with tinnitus is documented on the internet.

      Many people will only believe in something if there is concrete evidence or scientific proof. Tinnitus is a very complex condition and what might affect one person might not affect another. Over the years I have been contacted by people with tinnitus that use headphones and listen to music at low level, and noticed their tinnitus becoming more intrusive. In the majority of these cases, the tinnitus was originally caused by exposure to loud noise and hyperacusis was also present. I believe once the auditory system has been subjected to loud noise trauma and the result is tinnitus and hyperacusis, the cochlear is more sensitive to sound than before even after habituation has been reached.

      I have no scientific data or proof, to back up what I'm saying about headphone use and tinnitus or computers and tinnitus. All I have is my personal experience and people that have contacted me regretting they had returned to using headphones. All I will say to anyone that has tinnitus and especially if it was caused by loud noise exposure, and they decide to use headphones, just be very careful.

      Michael
       
    15. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      In the scenario you are describing, the two sound waves hitting the ear drum are not the same, so it makes sense that it would make a difference. You are clearly stating that the waves that originate from the speaker incur an attenuation due to the dissipation, absorption and reflections, unlike the sound waves originating from a headphone. If two sound waves hitting the ear drum are different, it is obvious that the consequences would be different too.
      Nobody is claiming that two different sound waves wouldn't have a different outcome, it's that two identical sound waves should have an identical outcome, irrespective of how they were generated.

      To further illustrate this point, consider a speaker putting out very loud music, for example at a concert. That is probably more dangerous than the same music being played at a soft volume through a headphone. Again, it's not the how, it's the what. It wouldn't make sense to blame speaker use in general, in my opinion.

      That is really unfortunate.
      However, the lack of scientific data or proof shouldn't preclude anyone from using logical reasoning. Whether the logic is sound (pun intended) can always be debated, but without scientific data, proof, or even any shred of logic, we are left with very little to give credibility to claims.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    16. Telis

      Telis Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Calgary
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013
      Why not stop polluting TT with BS? Your posts are hard to get through, you have a lot of strong opinions and nothing ever to back up anything you say, just a lot of verbal diareah.
       
      • Funny Funny x 2
    17. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @GregCA
      Thank you for your comments Greg, which are well detailed and written as usual. However, I disagree with them and choose not to comment further.
      All the best
      Michael
       
      • Funny Funny x 1
    18. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Understood.

      For your own sake, I suggest at least trying to identify the logical reasoning behind your disagreement, because you end up wrapped up in a dogma you can't get out of, as you don't give yourself the reasoning tools to.

      If you haven't looked into it yet, take a look at cognitive dissonance. We are all guilty of it, but recognizing it can help you deal with it more effectively.

      Another thing that I think would be useful to you is looking into statistical bias. It will explain why you are deriving a possibly bogus axiom about the people who come to you after headphone exposure with increased T. A simple explanation could be that those who have used headphones without any spike don't feel the urge to contact you.

      You do certainly have a lot of experience with T, and I personally do value your contributions, but I do understand you don't want to carry on further with this discussion and respect your choice, so I will bid you good bye and good luck (especially with your T since it seems to have been no walk in the park).
       
    19. stophiss

      stophiss Member

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      too full a life
      To arbitrate a bit;), I believe opinions here which vary are all good and shouldn't be discouraged. Varied opinions drill down on the truth and promote discussion to get to the root cause of truth. Sure some egos get a bit bruised in the process...sometimes.
      I tend to be the Greg camp for headphone usage. I agree the hearing apparatus can't differentiate sound source, headphone which is a small speaker....versus larger speaker set farther away...power and volume adjusted accordingly.
      But will throw out a caveat that may obliquely apply even to larger speakers. Many outside in louder ambient environments...I have been guilty of this out on the bike, increase volume of headphones or ear buds too much therefore in aggregate, may end up pumping too much sound into their ears. Speaking from my personal experience. This is less of an issue with more sealed larger headphones which I have as well...but the same temptation is to crank up sound level due to wonderful fidelity. But an equivalent argument can be made for cranking up large speakers as well. :)

      I say, everybody put forth their argument and opinion and let each decide on the veracity of each argument.
      Cheers everybody and keep opinions coming. I actually seek a middle ground on the earphone ear bud thing. When I do listen to my ear buds out on the bike, I think of Michael and try to keep them quite low...whereby my tinnitus is audible over the music.

      PS: honestly, ear bud usage on the bike is a huge controversy unto itself for safety considerations. Many are staunchly against it and this debate is waged on cycling forums as well. :p
       
      • Like Like x 1
    20. Tyler Montgomery
      Fine

      Tyler Montgomery Member

      Location:
      Kentucky
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/12/15
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Perforated eardrum from hard blow to the head.
      I did not use them for the first 6 months or so that I developed Tinnitus, because any loud sound just hurt like hell. I use them now though, just with lower volume than I used to before.
       
    21. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      I dont know why , but it seems that when using headphones people tend to creep the volume up.
      Maybe people trying to compensate for bone conduction when using speakers ?

      From that you could deduce that there is some kind of difference when listening to headphones rather then speakers. I say that because is it seems like people are saying its the same thing ...its not.

      Theory:
      Todays music is so compressed its insane , and I dont mean data compression , I mean dynamic compression.
      Some of these dynamics are "restored" when speakers push air giving your ears some"breathing room" as opposed to the 2 cm away from the eardrum blasting of "zero dynamics" modern music. We have built in compressors in our ears , they dont function properly when left with no breathing room.

      I stopped using headphones years and years ago and have never used them for music production.
      I think they are unhealthy as fuck , let alone these phase inverting noise cancellation headphones.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    22. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      I have the same feeling, that "we" instinctively turn up the volume higher when we use headphones. I use quotes because we in this forum are probably more sensitive to volume and more careful than the public at large, which is who I was referring to.

      I can't really explain why either, but it may be because when you use headphones you feel like you are "isolated" from the rest of the world, so nobody will mind the volume. If you had speakers instead, cranking up the volume would mean somebody complaining (your family, your neighbors, people on the train, etc). Headphones solve the "I can do what I want" problem, giving you a sense of freedom and enveloping sound, that would require a very loud volume to reproduce on a traditional bookshelf/tower speaker.
       
    23. RaZaH
      Not amused

      RaZaH Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Reykjavík, Iceland
      Tinnitus Since:
      2012/04
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzo + loud noise
      Not a bad theory and it might play into it but I dont think that is the main issue ,there is something about your ears actually feeling like its not loud enough after a while.
      The volume has a tendency to creep up over time, I think there is something going on here that we dont fully understand yet.
       
    24. Jason C

      Jason C Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      29 May 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Burgler Alarm
      Actually decided too have a go with ear buds tonight as I got a new iPhone 7.

      As far as I can tell, no distortion that usually appears when I listen via speakers and so far no change in the T.

      Kept the volume low but audiable and about 2 tracks before bottled it lol

      New life goals lol listening too music lmao
       
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