Is Using an Earbud Bad for You?

Discussion in 'Support' started by cflkb, Jan 16, 2013.

    1. cflkb

      cflkb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Hi all, how are you? I am new here. 4 months into it and I have a question. I use my ipod/iphone at night and listen to crickets, or ocean waves or even soft piano music. I use the ear buds that came with the ipod/iphone, BUT I only have the volume maxed out at 2 clicks up on the volume and never any higher. So my question is, is this alright for me to do, or is this something not recommended. I've heard many say it's alright, and I've heard others say don't do it, but is there a scientific evidence of why one shouldn't use ear buds at very low volumes to not mask the T, but so I can focus on other noises? And like I said, I only have the volume cranked up one or at most two clicks up on the volume. Thanks everyone. I appreciate any help you can provide.
    2. Sen

      Sen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      you should be fine. i personally wouldn't use earbuds at all, but that's because i have hyperacusis and i'm overly cautious about sounds.
    3. AUTHOR

      cflkb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Thanks Echoes01. I normally only use one earbud on my right ear because I have the humidifier on my left side of the bed. :) but I do switch it from time to time since the high pitch of my T switches from ear to ear. Mostly I use them because my wife is a light sleeper, but she said if it's really bad to use ear buds, then she doesn't mind if we used ipod speakers.
    4. Marty

      Marty Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      How did you get your tinnitus? Was it by listening to music on too high volume via headphones? I'd recommend you to find another way of listening to what you need. I've been recommended never to use headphones/ear buds again, no matter what. That being said it's different for everyone and it may not do any harm at all to you.

      So it's basically your decision. But if it do get worse then I'd absolutely stop listening via ear buds, and if you first got tinnitus via headphones then I'd stop right away. This applies no matter what the volume settings is.
    5. Markku

      Markku Founder Staff Podcast Patron Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Would you mind telling who has recommended you not to ever again listen to music using headphones/ear buds again?

      No names needed, but was it a doctor (ENT?), audiologist, or...?

      I mean, I listen to music daily using my Westone UM2's, they are in-ear monitors and I love the sound.

      I've never, ever listened to music at loud levels, not without 'phones, not with. Most of my life I've actually found loud music annoying.

      So... I use IEM's, but my volume levels are moderate.

      For me, it hasn't made my tinnitus worse. And I can't see the connection why it would make it worse either; if you are not listening at too loud levels, that is.

      Since IEMs isolate so much external sound, I always take care that the volume is just right before inserting them in my ears, otherwise it's easy to get blasted with extremely loud sound.

      But, with moderate listening volumes and good care it's tough for me to find reasons not to use IEMs (or other headphones for that matter).

      Still, no matter what the sound source, making sure it isn't too loud is a must.
      (And I'm not suggesting here to Marty that he should start using earbuds again, if it has been recommended him not to. I'm only thinking here about why earbuds at moderate levels could in general be more harmful than, i.e. external speakers at moderate levels, if safe use is practiced with earburds)
      • Like Like x 1
    6. Marty

      Marty Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      I wasn't personally recommended not to use them, but it was actually on another tinnitus forum. On the British tinnitus association forum, the tinnitus support contact there, Michael Leigh, wrote that it may be bad in some cases.

      I'll quote it here, in case you're interested to read it. Remember it's not my words:

      "The views on whether a person with tinnitus should listen to music through headphones are controversial. Some people show no adverse affects while others do even when the volume level is kept low. We are all different so the only way a one can know is to experiment for themselves. In my opinion, when the T was caused by exposure to loud noise/music and it has become intrusive - by this I mean a person having to seek help at ENT, then they shouldn’t listen to music through headphones no matter how low the volume is set.
      Most music has syncopation throughout its frequency range, so it’s constantly changing in pitch, rhythm and timbre. Once the Cochlear (in the inner ear) becomes damaged by noise exposure, it is much more sensitive to sound. This is one of the reasons hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) is often experienced with noise-induced tinnitus. The wearing of WNGs (white noise generators) as part of TRT treatment can often cure the condition. My post: Answers to Hyperacusis and Habituation, covers this in more detail.
      The organ of the Corti which is attached to the Cochlear, has approximately 20,000 hair cells. These hair cells move to the vibration of sound and are just one of the components withing the auditory system that enable us to hear. Someone that already has a sensitive auditory system due to noise-induced tinnitus and listens to music through headphones at a low volume, risks irritating the Cochlear further; this can make the tinnitus louder and more intrusive.
      It can be misleading when some health professionals tell tinnitus patients, listening to music through headphones is fine as long as the volume is kept low. These health professionals may know about the anatomy of the Ear but the majority of them have never experienced intrusive tinnitus.
      Many people have visited this forum complaining their T has become worse due to headphone use even when played at low volume. I have received telephone calls from people telling me the same. One woman was told by her Audiologist to listen to music through headphones to help her tinnitus and hyperacusis, saying it would do no harm. The lady in question was reduced to tears even when she turned the volume down to the lowest setting.
      My advice to anyone that has tinnitus which was caused by exposure to loud noise, is not to listen to music through headphones even at low volume, due to the auditory system being more sensitive. If they choose to ignore this advice then they only have themselves to blame if the condition becomes worse.
      All the best
      PS: Wearing WNGs (white noise generators) doesn’t normally irritate the auditory system due the tone being constant with a frequency that doesn’t change. However, some people are unable to wear wngs as part of TRT treatment due to their sensitivity to sound brought on by exposure to loud noise."

      I personally do not know if this is dangerous or not, but I'll rather be on the safe side and not use them:).
    7. AUTHOR

      cflkb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Thanks for the input everyone. I'm not quite sure how I got my T. I really just woke up one morning and I started hearing a high pitch noise on and off.... Eventually it became 24/7. I have no history of recurring constant ear infections, no exposure to loud music--- no concerts, clubs or loud venues at all. That's why I'm so perplexed as to why I have this.
      I carry musicians ear plugs with me everywhere I go now just in case though. Better safe than sorry right? :) so far I've had no issues with increasing or decreasing the T when I use the ear buds. I keep it at most 2 clicks up on the volume, but mostly one click us where I'm usually at and I don't have it sticking directly in my ear but loosely hanging in the ear if that makes sense.
      Does anyone recommend a specific ear plug to use when vacuuming? Just curious. Thanks again! I appreciate any feedback! Hope everyone is having a quiet weekend.
    8. Fish

      Fish Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2012
      I saw some people here use Alpine Music Pro ear plugs (did I get this name right?) and I see no reason why would they be good for music, but not provide protection when vacuuming. I don't have such earplugs myself, though.

      I have a large stock of those:


      I prefer disposable earplugs personally, those are called "UVEX X-FIT" and I chose them because they were the strongest earplugs available in my country (best noise cancelling stats).

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