In-Ear vs Over-Ear Headphones: Which is Better for Hearing Health?
We all enjoy listening to music or watching shows or movies on our smartphones.
It’s an easy way to keep occupied during the daily commute to work or exercising in the gym.
However, there is a darker side to this that many people aren’t aware of.
Today, we’ll be discussing the hidden dangers of wearing in-ear and over-ear headphones and which ones are better for your hearing health.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
These days, people listen to music and video at such loud volumes that it increases their risk of noise-induced hearing loss over time.
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the cochlea are damaged due to exposure to loud noise over a long period. However, most of this damage may not be detected until later in life, but it can be prevented. Listening to loud music through headphones daily can increase your chances of developing tinnitus in the short term.
Headphones can emit sound above 85dB, which is the same level of noise as a lawnmower. According to the World Health Organisation, permanent hearing damage is possible after two hours at these levels. At least 1.1 billion people are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss due to unknowingly exposing themselves to loud volumes of noise while using earphones or headphones.
However, if you follow the volume warnings on your headphones and listen to music at safe levels, you can prevent yourself from developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Choosing In-Ear or Over-Ear Headphones
Choosing the right headphones in conjunction with obeying the sound level warnings given by your device can help reduce the risk of permanent hearing damage.
There are two general types of headphones:
- Ones that go in the ear
- Ones that go over the ear
In-ear headphones are more likely to damage your hearing if the volume gets too loud than over-ear headphones.
This is because in-ear headphones send the sounds directly into the ear canal, and there is less chance of sound leakage than over-ear headphones.
In addition to exposing users to louder sound volumes without added protection, in-ear headphones are also subject to natural amplification. This means that when the in-ear headphones are inside your ear canal, they can increase the volume by up to nine decibels.
With in-ear headphones, the outer part of the ear canal is impeded, leading to a blocked sensation. In this situation, what you are listening to becomes less clear, so most people feel the need to increase the volume for more clarity, further increasing the risk of being exposed to louder volumes and noise-induced hearing loss.
Unless the user complies with the sound level warning from the device, there is no protection for their hearing.
Not everyone has the budget to afford AirPods or the Android equivalent. Unfortunately, with lesser quality in-ear headphones, people increase the volume. However, if you do have the money to buy quality headphones, it will greatly benefit your hearing health in the long run.
Over-ear headphones are a much better choice as frequent listening using in-ear headphones tend to push earwax further into the ears, often causing a blockage. However, since over-ear headphones sit on top of the ears, the inner ear isn’t impacted.
In-ear headphones don’t block out background noise, causing the listener to increase the volume. In contrast, many over-ear headphones have noise-cancelling functions allowing you to cut out background noise and reduce overall listening volumes.
While over-ear headphones are a much better choice for your hearing health, it’s important to acknowledge a significant safety concern with both types of headphones.
Over-ear headphones have a noise-cancelling feature, and the rubber tips used by some in-ear headphones are also used to cut out background noise. This feature on both types of headphones can endanger physical safety while cycling, jogging or anywhere in public.
In-ear and over-ear headphones are not going away any time soon. However, by using over-ear headphones and taking notice of the volume warnings on each device we use, it’s possible to protect our hearing.
Not sure which type is best for you? Get in touch with one of our friendly team members, and they will help you pick the right hearing aids for you.