Doctors are worried that we are facing a new epidemic of tinnitus, or, dare we say, an iPod-emic, because the hearing problem is related to the spread of earbuds that became hugely popular as part of the iconic style for Apple’s landmark music player.

Music That Plays Better Louder

Walkmans and portable compact disc players were limited by a number of factors. These first portable music players had limited battery life at high volumes, which limited the temptation to blare the music at damaging levels. The fidelity was also very poor at high volumes, with lots of distortion, so many people kept the volume down so they could enjoy their music more.

But modern players have overcome these problems. With more sophisticated batteries and easier charging on-the-go, these music players can provide more music for longer. And because the computerized players are good at delivering distortion-free music at higher volumes, people tend to listen at higher volumes.

Earbuds make hearing damage more likely because they place the source of sound closer to the eardrum, increasing the net sound volume by 9 decibels.

How to Avoid Ear Damage

Damage can occur if you experience prolonged exposure to sounds of 90 decibels or above. Unfortunately, smartphones and other digital music players are capable of achieving this level of sound and sustaining it for long periods of time.

To avoid ear damage, it is recommended that people follow the 60/60 rule. Listen at no more than 60% volume, and for no more than 60 minutes a day. Whenever possible, encourage teens to use players that use conventional speakers to listen to music. If necessary, parents should use parental control settings to limit the volume at which teens can listen to music.

Do You Have Tinnitus Unrelated to Sound Exposure?

Exposure to loud, damaging sounds is the most common cause of tinnitus, and this type of tinnitus doesn’t have a good treatment. But many people have tinnitus that is unrelated to loud noises. This tinnitus may be related to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and it can be treated simply, without medications. To learn whether TMJ treatment can help your tinnitus in Columbus, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.