Protecting Your Ears and Still Enjoying Your Music

By Barry Keate
Barry Keate, has lived with tinnitus over 40 years and has published 150+ research articles on numerous aspects of tinnitus. He is an expert on the condition and a well-known advocate for those with tinnitus.

Protecting Your Ears and Still Enjoying Your Music

(freepik/Freepik)

People use headphones and earbuds for all kinds of reasons. They might be trying to study in a noisy house or dorm room, passing the time on the bus or train, making their workout session go by faster, or listening to an audiobook while they clean. Whatever the reason, earbuds and earphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The sad news is that enjoying your entertainment with the volume too high now may limit your ability to enjoy it in the future. And, this rule doesn’t just apply to the times you turn it up to hear the drum solo in your favorite song. It includes the individual who turns up their music or white noise to block out sound while they sleep or read, people who increase the volume so they can hear music over distracting sounds such as outside traffic, or indoor appliances..

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your tunes longer.

Tips For Longer Lasting Hearing

  1. Noise-Canceling Earphones: For those who turn their music up to block out distractions or annoying sounds, noise-canceling earbuds might be the trick for you. The earbuds block out the noisy dorm, machinery, or rambunctious siblings so you can concentrate without raising the volume. It’s also more comfortable. After listening to loud music for extended periods, you could experience tinnitus symptoms (ringing, rushing, or buzzing sounds without an external cause).
  2. Quiet Breaks: If you have to turn the volume up, perhaps you could give your ears a quiet break. Because the nerves in the inner ear get overexcited, a quiet break allows them a minute to calm down. This is a perfect time for meditation if you’re into that. Or you could use the time to read, take a warm bath and muffle sound with the water, or spend some time in nature. There are many quiet activities you could choose during these sound breaks. A longer break is always better.
  3. Nutrition: If you know you’re going into a noisy environment, or you’ve just spent a great deal of time with loud sound, give your ears a helping hand. There are natural supplements for tinnitus and general ear health that help irritated or damaged nerves repair themselves. High-grade ginkgo biloba is a popular tinnitus herbal treatment. Vitamin supplements for ear ringing include vitamin B-12 and zinc, which help with regeneration and conductivity. By giving your body what it needs, it can repair itself easier.
  4. Volume Control: Have you ever gotten in a car after someone else has driven and the volume is turned way up? There’s nothing like that first ear-blasting moment as you scramble to find the volume button. Many phones will automatically lower the volume to 60% when you activate your Bluetooth or plug-in headphones and earbuds. If you’re using another device or your phone doesn’t have that option, just remember to turn the volume down before putting the earbuds in.
  5. Distance: When possible, listen to music on external speakers rather than earbuds. When sound waves hit your eardrum, distance makes a difference. The next best thing is over-the-ear headphones as opposed to earbuds, as earbud sound waves have nowhere else to go.
  6. Relaxation: Stress alone can worsen tinnitus symptoms. A combination of stress and loud noise could cause additional problems. It’s unclear if anxiety actually causes tinnitus or if it makes you hyper-aware enough to notice early-stage tinnitus that your brain normally filters out. What is known is that during times of anxiety, the fight or flight reaction causes physiological changes, and people notice tinnitus as a symptom. There are things you can do to lessen stress.
    1. Deep Breathing: Deep, slow breaths trick your brain into thinking the danger is over. The fight or flight response is neutralized, and your body returns to relative peace.
    2. Massage: People clench their jaws during times of stress. Tightening muscles around the ear can cause tinnitus symptoms as well. Place a tennis ball against your cheek and roll it over the skin using your palm. Move back and forth from the temple, down in front of the ear, and onto the jaw. Pay special attention to any tender areas, as this is where you’re storing your stress.

Savoring the Music

Music is an integral part of the human experience and can bring great joy, help you deal with heartache, or psych you up for a hard-hitting workout. The fact that we have access to so many types of music that we can carry around with us everywhere we go is a miracle previous generations never could have imagined. However, as the Walkman and Boombox era generation started to suffer hearing loss, later generations could only learn from their experience. We can protect our hearing so we can enjoy our music for many years to come.

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Protecting Your Ears and Still Enjoying Your Music