Are earphones damaging your hearing?

February 23, 2016

All of us go through those days when we want nothing but to just tune out the world and lose ourselves in some soul satisfying music. And there are also days when you end up spending hours on the phone for work or otherwise. This constant exposure to mobile radiation and prolonged use of earphones, could actually be damaging our ears, warn experts. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a common ear problem that most of the urban population is affected with these days. Auditory specialists say that depending on the severity of damage and how early you get diagnosed, the level of hearing loss can be slowed down and in some cases even restored with steroidal drugs.

What is noise induced hearing loss?
Dr Vikas Agarwal ENT surgeon explains, "When you listen to music or a loud noise, the tiny hair like structures in your ear (that help send signals to your brain to cognate a sound) get damaged and eventually are stripped off their outer covering which leads to hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss (that occurs due to continuous earphone use) is called NIHL and is often irreversible."

The physiology behind it
The ear and the hearing pathway consists of the outer ear, called the pinna which collects sound and transfers it to the ear canal. Consultant ENT and head and neck surgeon, Dr Dillon Dsouza explains, "At the end of this canal, is a sheet of tissue called the ear drum which vibrates converting sound to energy which is transmitted through three tiny bones that act as an amplifier to a long coiled tube filled with fluid called the cochlea. The hearing nerves are placed in this." He adds, "Here sound becomes electricity and is sent to the brain via the hearing nerve where it is translated to sound and understood, much like speech recognition software works. Anywhere in this pathway damage can cause hearing loss."

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