Listen Up! NIDCD Director Talks About Earbuds and Hearing Loss

Listen Up! NIDCD Director Talks About Earbuds and Hearing Loss

Because an important cause of hearing loss is loud noise, many parents are concerned that their children may be damaging their hearing by listening to music with earbuds. The Healthcare Policy Podcast explored how the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, is working to reduce noise-induced hearing loss. Podcast producer David Introcaso interviewed NIDCD Director James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., in early January 2017.

“There’s nothing wrong with earbuds that are producing sound at a low, nontoxic level. But earbuds are bad when you turn them up too loud,” said Dr. Battey. “My rule of thumb is, if an individual is standing at arm’s length from you and they can hear your earbuds … that noise is probably over 85 decibels and if delivered for a long enough time will cause noise-induced hearing loss.”

Preventing noise-induced hearing loss is a priority for the NIDCD. The Institute’s It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing.® campaign, which is aimed at children aged 8 to 12 and their parents and other caregivers, raises awareness about prevention. Noisy Planet emphasizes three key messages:

  • Lower the volume.
  • Move away from the noise.
  • Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs.


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