Addiction to earpiece may lead to hearing loss- ENT Specialist

Young persons addicted to constant use of earpiece were likely to suffer from hearing loss, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon, Dr Mohammed Sani has said.

Sani, who works at the National Ear Care Centre, Kaduna, said this while speaking with students of Kaduna Polytechnic in a lecture as part of activities to mark the 2022 World Hearing Day.

He observed that the use of earpiece had led to an increase in cases of loss of hearing in adolescents and young adults, saying those who use earphones as constant companions while studying or travelling, should be cautious.

“Earpiece can damage the ears if they are used for a long period of time at a high volume, and can result in partial to complete hearing loss, also known as noise-induced hearing loss.

“The damage can be permanent as the sound from earpiece cause the hair cells in the cochlea to bend severely.

“When sound waves reach the ear, there are vibrations in the eardrum, which are transmitted to the inner ear through several small bones, to reach the cochlea.

“The cochlea is a fluid-filled chamber in an ear that contains thousands of small hairs. When sound vibrations reach the cochlea, the fluid inside it vibrates and cause the hairs to move.

“If the volume is too loud, it will have stronger vibrations and cause the hair cells to move more, and this results in ‘temporary hearing loss’,” the ENT surgeon said.

He said that the hair cells in the cochlea took time to recover from extreme vibrations caused by loud noise.

Sani added that there were also some cases, where the cells never recovered, became too damaged to function normally any longer.

“This leads to `lasting hearing loss’; this type of noise-induced hearing damage is almost impossible to recover from,” he disclosed.

According to him, noise-induced hearing loss due to earpiece is preventable if one does not use them too long and too loudly.

The ENT surgeon counselled that the amount of time spent with earphones in the ears should be limited to 30 minutes.

“Always try and remove the earpiece every 30 minutes. You can even set reminders on your smartphone if you are in the habit of using earphones.

“It is preferable to use headphones over earpiece, as the latter is closer to the eardrum and tends to do bigger damage when used for a long period of time”, he advised.

Sani advised further that earpiece users should lookout for signs of hearing loss, which included buzzing or ringing in the ears, difficulty in hearing at low volume and a need to keep the volume up.

“If earphone users, who listen to music at high decibels, are seen to complain of sharp pain in certain areas in their ears and try to decrease the frequency of usage, they should consult an ENT specialist immediately”, he said.

The World Hearing Day is being celebrated on March 3 every year by the Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness of the World Health Organisation.

The theme for this year’s event is, “To hear for life, listen with care”, and it will focus on the importance and means of hearing loss prevention through safe listening. 

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