Why Advise Against Headphones?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Ento, Aug 8, 2018.

    1. Ento
      Wishful

      Ento Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Northern Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma? Stress? Both?
      I read on this forum that some people advise against using headphones, even at low volume. I cannot understand why. If the volume is low, how could it be a problem?

      I work in a noisy office environment and have to use headphones to be able to concentrate. Also I use them for masking my tinnitus.
       
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    2. dpdx
      Disappointed

      dpdx Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Murica
      Tinnitus Since:
      Onset:09/23/2017 Worsened: 1/17/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, worsened by caloric test/VEMP test 90db nhL
      Think about what you just said. Just think about it for a minute.
       
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    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ento
      Wishful

      Ento Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Northern Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma? Stress? Both?
      Whenever I use my headphones it's always on low volume.
       
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    4. Elfin
      Wishful

      Elfin Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert
      The need for scientific validation frustrates at times. Just because there hasn't been a paper published, it doesn't invalidate the testimonies of many who have experienced something.

      It seems common sense to not stick something into your ears to play sound that close to your eardrum when you have a noise-induced condition.
       
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    5. yonkapin

      yonkapin Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Melbourne, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      March 2012
      I seem to be in the minority here but I've been using in ear earphones the last couple of years and have had no problems. Was scared for a long time because of the hyperacusis I used to deal with but after that went away I slowly brought them back into my regime. Use them when traveling and going to the gym mainly.

      I could see the argument going either way and it just depends what you feel comfortable with. I could see in ear earphones being possibly more dangerous because they are physically in your ear and producing sound, so possibly in addition to the sound being produced by the speaker, there might be some sort of physical conduction from the earphone being physically connected to the ear canal. Have no science to back that up though, but I haven't bothered to do the research. In that case, you could consider over-the-ear style headphones which would possibly pose less risk but you will have a gang of members here say that could possibly dangerous also.

      In my case it's been A-OK but everyone is different. The way I see it is 60db is 60db, regardless of whether it is produced from speaker or earphone. If you want to take into account some possible conduction from the physical attachment of the gear then use it at an even lower volume and limit your time with them, take regular breaks, etc.
       
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    6. Contrast
      No Mood

      Contrast Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Clown World
      Tinnitus Since:
      late 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise injury
      I use headphones very seldomly now, Michael Leigh has a point.

      The synapses that connect hair cells to the audiotory nerve are damaged if one has noise induced tinnitus and more fragile then in healthy ears.

      There isn't yet a way to repair ribbon synapses or cochlear hair cells so obviously be very careful with headphones.
       
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    7. Sam Bridge

      Sam Bridge Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music/gigs probably
      I only have tinnitus in my right ear, is it ok to use earphones in left ear?
       
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    8. Alue
      No Mood

      Alue Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Headphones in a quiet environment on low is probably okay. Headphones in a noisy environment isn't a good idea (unless they are quality noise cancelling or noise isolating headphones). The problem is you have to crank them up just to be able to hear them over the background noise.
       
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    9. drivera2592
      Nerdy

      drivera2592 Member

      Location:
      Garden Grove CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      If it is not ok to use headphones, then why is it ok to listen to white noise through noise generators (TRT)? This makes no sense to me. Essentially they function like headphones.
       
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    10. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      Wearing ear buds, or headphones is exactly the same as wearing in ear or over ear white noise generators. A 60 dB sound is 60 dBs regardless of whether it is white noise or not. It is being projected into the ear at a certain dB range.

      Also, all of the new bi-modal stimulation devices for tinnitus use headphones playing a sound into the ear. Does this mean that these researchers who have spend thousands if not millions of dollars on these products are creating something that will lessen and worsen tinnitus at the same time?

      When people say "played at a low volume" I seriously question whether it to be true. Were they in a loud environment and turned it up until they could barely hear it and called it "low"? If that is the case, than no they didn't have it playing low. Also different ear buds and headphones have different minimum volumes. I have 3 different kinds and at the lowest setting each of them produce a different level of sound. I have a bluetooth one that at the lowest setting it just as loud as my apple ear buds at setting five. So this again is very subjective.

      Also, there are different types of headphones such as open back, which allow sound to leave the back of the headphones. This way the sound has the ability to escape and now just get pumped into your ear.

      I say this because I have had tinnitus my entire life (before my recent loud noise exposure that increased it) and I had always used headphones of all kinds. I never, ever had a problem listening to anything at low volumes and it would never affect my tinnitus in the slightest. I haven't worn them since my recent noise exposure to give them time to heal (also staying away from all potential loud situations), but will try again in the near future when the bi-modal stimulation devices come out.
       
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    11. GlennS

      GlennS Member Podcast Patron Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      1992
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      So far I have yet to read a clear scientific basis behind some of this fearmongering. Pseudo-science, yes, but nothing that really passes the smell test. Everyone knows that prolonged exposure to loud noise of any source is bad for your ears. Why do you think people who work the tarmac at the airport wear earmuffs, for instance? But it's the volume more than the source. Secondarily, the inability of air to escape from old-school 'closed' headphone designs contributes to ear-fatigue (as any studio engineer can attest to). Pete Townshend implicates headphone use in his T, although in his case it could surely be due to stage exposure (plus the explosion at the Smothers Brothers performance).

      I just think the superstitions in this thread are along the same lines as people's beliefs about diet (vegan vs. keto vs. paleo). Lots of isolated anecdotes and sketchy correlation = causation linkages. But boy are people passionate about their convictions!
       
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    12. Paul38
      Gloomy

      Paul38 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      table saw
      I've seen a lot of recommendations to not wear headphones - even at low volumes. What is the reasoning behind that? I understand the danger of having speakers right next to the ear because of the potential for them to be too loud. But if one is careful to keep the volume low, what other risks are there?
       
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    13. John Mahan

      John Mahan Member

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      There is no risk of having loud speakers right next to your ear.
      There is no risk to wearing headphones.

      Everyday, people do damage to their hearing from riding loud motorcycles, to working in a plant environment to going to a rock concert without sound protection.

      Don't kill the messenger. It's the message. Loudness kills hearing, not the messenger of the sound.

      What do people do to their ears?

      They listen to loud speakers too loud
      They listen to headphones too loud
      They install straight pipes on their motorcycle.
      They drive a metal stake with a sledge hammer with no ear protection.

      All about volume. Not about the sound source.
       
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    14. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      destroy all creatures. they cannot be regenerated.
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      We have $1500 across 5 sets of low-to-higher-end headphones in this house. It's fine. Don't be dumb with volumes. If something seems fatiguing or hurts or feels weird it's too loud, take a break.
       
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    15. GlennS

      GlennS Member Podcast Patron Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      1992
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      IMHO, the most amazing headphone experience is this song:

      Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime...


      I've never heard another song with kind of closeness and sheer clarity in the vocals.

      If I could hear this without tinnitus it would be so sweet.
       
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    16. John Mahan

      John Mahan Member

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      There are many issues with what you write.

      a. Because headphones are as ubiquitous as smoking, if there were a tinnitus linkage there would be a scientific paper published. Headphones have been studied for sound damage to hearing in depth. Just like loud speakers, loud sound damages hearing. There is nothing published on NIT and headphones.

      b. Noise Induced tinnitus is at worst a myth and at best a misnomer. The scientific community can't figure out how to subtype tinnitus. It is too complex. It is like discussion about race. Purity of race is a myth as well.

      Somebody can attempt to subtype it of course. They could create a subset of a subtype. Like young men who go off to war and fire off munitions with constant 130 dB exposure. Is this different than an old person who has worked at a manufacturing facility for 30 years with high sound exposure? Is the cochlea damage the same? Is cumulative damage the same as more instantaneous or more precipitous damage that typically causes a greater onset of tinnitus? How about with somatic interaction? What ratio of NIT and somatic interaction is least or most problematic? How about with genetic predisposition to hearing loss? The permutations of tinnitus subtype AND INTERACTIONS with other subtypes is mind numbing. It contributes to the problem of solving it. People have different types of tinnitus even under the broad umbrella of noise Induced tinnitus. NIT can not be painted with the same broad brush as it applies to any sound source.

      A sound source is a sound source is a sound source. Air percussion creates ear drum deflection. The ear drum can not differentiate source. Nor can the brain... or the brain could be fooled.

      Lastly with headphones there is nothing inside the ear... or doesn't have to me. Headphones I use do not touch the ears at all.

      There is one guy on here with a weird anecdotal obsession. He really believes it. People believe things. Some people think they can fly until they jump out a window and learn otherwise.
       
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    17. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      You can use headphones at low volume, there is no problem with that.
       
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    18. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      destroy all creatures. they cannot be regenerated.
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      There are also a lot of people on this forum and who have come through here who definitely do have noise induced tinnitus who also find no problem with headphones. But, of course, you ignore them, because that's what you do: you see the world as a grid of round holes, and even if I give you a bunch of square pegs, by god you're gonna hammer 'em in there.

      Also if you do high frequency audiograms on people with "non noise induced tinnitus" they reliably show deficits. "Non noise induced" is probably mostly long-term hearing loss related. So we're making a distinction between noise trauma vs long term exposure, but.... according the the Shore lab, the probable neurological mechanism and treatment is the same.

      FFS we have musicians on here with tinnitus who have returned to playing amped music on stage for years and it's been fine for them. Sure, some people might not be able to tolerate that and we're all different... and a lot of us can use headphones just fine, at safe volumes.

      This message sent from a (NON ENT) doctors office waiting room with a pair of Sony WH1000MX3s around my neck.
       
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    19. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      I think that for those of us with NIT, there truly is no volume low enough for headphones and earbuds to be safe enough for us is the bottom line.
       
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    20. JohnAdams
      Festive

      JohnAdams Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Vatican
      Tinnitus Since:
      May 1st 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Aspirin Toxicity/Possibly Noise
      "While reading, I am listening to a playlist of ambient sounds -- birdsong, babbling brook, ocean waves -- on my bluetooth headphones (Inland ProHT 87091) when without any warning an unbelievably loud burst of white noise bursts out of my headphones. It's incredibly startling and painful."
      https://discussions.apple.com/thread/6817238

      Yes put all your trust in sound drivers that might glitch out.
       
    21. Luman
      Spaced

      Luman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brooklyn
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Intermittent Tinnitus probably noise induced
      There's certainly a possibility that some people will get tinnitus, or have an existing case made worse, by using headphones, even at low volumes. On the other hand, nobody is going to get tinnitus, or any other ear problems, from avoiding them. I sold a pair of rare, high-end, collectible headphones last year, because I am not willing to gamble with making my tinnitus worse.
       
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    22. HeavyMantra
      Bugridden

      HeavyMantra Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      All I know is that I'm still shocked that using in-ear monitors at low to moderate volume gave me tinnitus... If they did.

      Everyone I know that works with audio and mixing music professionally says that headphones are way more damaging to the ears than speakers and they use them very sparingly. This is from guys that listen to speakers at up to 70-84 dB up to 16 hours a day with breaks, and they don't have tinnitus. I trust their judgement personally and I'll never use headphones again because I think avoiding what caused my tinnitus is safest
       
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    23. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Well, when exposed to loud noises, I do try and plug my ears for protection in fact.

      https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-your-kids-headphones-permanently-damaging-their-hearing

      In fact, most children, are listening to their headphones too loudly.
       
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    24. Juan

      Juan Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Several causes
      All my hearing problems were caused by very loud noise exposure and I can use headphones at low volume with no problem.

      Actually for hyperacusis one can use headphones like the Grado SR60, that type of stuff, not covering the ear, and it can be good because if you play low sounds on them they reduce the dynamic range with the sounds around (the difference in volume between the background sound and peak sounds).
       
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    25. LukeYoung
      Mooooody

      LukeYoung Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud Concert - Noise Exposure
      Hey guys.

      Now this is going to be controversial. So please let me know if you agree or disagree :)

      I think using headphones is fine;
      I think about it like this... People use hearing aids... Basically speakers in their ears all day everyday.

      Therefore I propose, headphone or earphone use should be safe at safe levels (e.g 60dB)
      From what we know, 60dB is safe levels.

      Wouldn't this mean that if used correctly, headphones/earphones wouldn't worsen tinnitus or do damage?

      (not including people with hyperacusis)

      I think we get so paranoid about things worsening tinnitus.

      What do you guys think?
       
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    26. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      :popcorndrink:
       
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    27. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      How are you measuring the headphone output db value?

      https://onezero.medium.com/why-airp...-especially-bad-for-your-hearing-20f32b6e02e2

      I am gonna go with earbuds and headphones are not safe for folks with NIHL and NIT.
       
    28. LukeYoung
      Mooooody

      LukeYoung Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud Concert - Noise Exposure
    29. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      I only rarely used headphones and earbuds prior to all of this, and my initial acoustic trauma was from them. I really have no need for them, so I would say no.

      The other issue is that I doubt we will ever know what the volume level of headphones accurately are, creating another barrier to safe use.

      Why play with fire if you know you can get burnt?
       
    30. LukeYoung
      Mooooody

      LukeYoung Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud Concert - Noise Exposure
      Most people i'd say can tell if something is too loud.. most of us were just stupid and didn't know T could happen.

      But yeah fair call
       
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