Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Tinnitus?

Notice: This article contains very little information about tinnitus, for more detailed information about tinnitus, it’s types, prevention and cure read the book your health and headphones

Human beings and a lot of other animals are equipped with an anatomy that enables us to gather sounds from the environment and have the brain process it.

Hearing is one of the most underrated abilities that we have been endowed with. We have our ears to thank for that. Since we have ears, we are able to communicate, maintain our balance and enjoy music.

Most of people turn to music for different purposes. Music for some is a form of relaxation, to some; it is a way to express themselves vicariously through the lyrics.

In enjoying music, we have grown accustomed to using gadgets that allow us to enjoy music without outside noise interference.

What are noise-cancelling headphones?

So far most of us who are passionate about music whether while travelling, on-the-go, or enjoying music in general, a good pair of headphones is a big deal. For this, noise-cancelling headphones are a good investment.

These headphones are custom-built to effectively eliminate outside noise. The premise here is; to be able to enjoy music quietly without having to turn up the volume; outside noise should be lessened or at least should not overpower the music.

Since there is a factor of close range proximity to the ears when we use headphones, there have been concerns as to if it may cause damage to our ears. We will examine the facts about this and by the end of the article figure out if using headphones really do damage to our ears and specifically, if it does cause tinnitus. 

How do our ears work?

Our ears are made up of three parts; the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. All the parts have their own function that contributes to how we hear sounds. All the parts also play a role in regulating the sounds that we hear.

a)Outer Ear – this is the part of the ear that you see from the outside. The ear canal which we clean regularly up to the ear drum is also part of the outer ear. This part of the ear is responsible for directing the sound waves that enter the ear to the eardrum.

b)Middle Ear – This extends from the eardrum to a space in the head filled with air and that houses three of the smallest bones in our body. When the sound vibrations reach this part of the ear, it is intensified and is further led into the inner ear. This is also the part of the ear that reduces the loudness of the overly loud sounds that we hear.

c)Inner ear – This is where the hearing mechanism happens. The cochlea has hair cells that converts the vibrations into electrical signals which are then sent to the brain. Hair cells adjust to the intensity of the sounds that our ears receive. They modulate the loudness and they amplify softer ones.

How much noise can our ears take?

In general we can define noise as an unpleasant sound that may be too loud or unwelcome and that causes disturbance. There is a certain amount of noise that determines how tolerable it can be, In the book ”your health and headphones” it is made clear the intensity of sound that the human ear can take without effects

This is measured by the intensity of the noise (volume) and the length of exposure to the certain noise (duration). We can say noise is loud when you find that your hearing has been dulled after hearing a sudden loud noise.

It also means you have temporarily damaged hearing. With this, exposure to loud noise should further be prevented because it may lead to permanent damage.

Also you need to raise your voice so you can be heard over the noise. This is when you know that the sounds around you are potentially damaging. Raising your voice to a shout only means that the intensity of the sounds aside from your voice is far too strong so you can only overcome it by shouting.

If you are in this predicament, remove yourself from the situation immediately.You already feel headache hearing the sounds around you, then it is already causing strain to your ears and may lead to severe damage.

When we hear noise, not only should the loudness be considered but also the period of time we are exposed to it. In average, for an 8-hour period, the loudest noise that a person should be exposed to should only be equivalent to that of the blender when it is on.

From this it can be deemed that the prolonged exposure to loud sounds can be damaging to the ear but it doesn’t mean that exposure to very loud sounds in a short period of time won’t do any damage.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is when you hear a persistent buzzing sound in your ear even if there is no source from the outside. This is very discomforting and cause anxiety. This condition is more prevalent among people 55 and older.

As we get older, it is normal to lose part of our hearing abilities.   However, this condition has not been exclusively limited to older people now. Regardless of age, we are now exposed to many types of noise and most of them at very high intensities, too.

More and more activities and habits among young people expose them to a lot of loud noises like partying, concerts and loud sports, among many others.

Tinnitus is the persistent ringing in your ears that can hinder you from hearing anything else from your environment.

Do headphones cause tinnitus?

It is very important to note that it has been more common now to use headphones every day. Activities like running, watching movies on smaller gadgets, and even sleeping have us become more attuned to our headphones for better sound quality and mostly to drown out the noise outside.

With all that, the answer is yes, but it is not the only cause. At the same time it is a combination of prolonged exposure to loud sounds and the intensity of the sounds that can cause lasting damage.

These sounds do not just come from headphones but there are some ways that can contribute to the damage:

1. Exposure to very loud sounds from blasting music while wearing headphones can cause temporary tinnitus and possibly progress to worse cases.

2. While headphones focus the sound from our devices to our ears for better enjoyment, we are also causing more stress to our ears by doing so. Remember the hair cells? Prolonged exposure to stress can damage them permanently and take note that they are crucial to modulating the intensity of the sounds we hear.

3. We wear headphones for hours so we are causing too much strain to the ear without giving them proper time to recover.   Do using noise-cancelling headphones make a difference?

Noise-cancelling headphones do a good job of isolating the noise from the environment. Due to this, there will no longer be a need to have the volume up since the quality is already good even with lower volume levels.

In general headphones alone do not directly cause tinnitus. It is the frequency of use and the volume levels to which you listen to sounds through headphones are what can lead to hearing problems.  

To avoid such condition, you can take note of the following:

1. Choose headphones properly.  

As with almost everything else, the quality of the accessory or the gadget can play a role in the damage that it can do over periodic use. In this case, the type of headphones can greatly make a difference in how the device affects us.

It is highly recommended to choose over the ear headphones rather than ear buds that go directly into the ear. If you prefer ear buds since headphones are too big for your convenience, then choose loose-fitting ones. The point is to keep them from getting too deep into the ear.

There are many types of noise-cancelling headphones and you are free to choose whichever suits you.Before you continue reading this article, please have a look at the best noise cancelling headphones we have come to find out based on user experience and hearing safety. check out the reviews please.


Bose QC 35 (II)


Sony WH1000 XM2

Sennheiser HD1

Are you looking for cheap high quality safe headphones? Click the link

2. Pace your use.  

We know that music can greatly help a lot for concentration and to avoid louder noise from the outside but it does need to be regulated. There is a concept called 60-60 rule. This is when they prescribe having to listen to music from your device using headphones for 60 minutes and at only 60 percent volume.

After that, you should give your ears a breather’ from all the sounds it has been exposed to for the past hour.

To summarize:  Our ears can only take a certain level of loudness for a period of time before it shows signs of damage.Prolonged exposure to noise can cause temporary damage that may be permanent if not addressed.

Headphones alone do not cause tinnitus. Noise-cancelling headphones limit the noise interference from the outside effectively removing the need to crank up the volume of what we’re listening to.

The key to avoiding hearing damage while still being able to enjoy the use of headphones is to regulate and pace our usage.There are a lot of things that we are able to enjoy because we have ears that allow us to. It is our responsibility to take the necessary precaution to avoid damaging them.

To learn in detail about tinnitus get the book ” your health and headphones” now

Other related articles

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  2. Do noise cancelling headphones damage ears and hearing?
  3. Are noise cancelling headphones safe or dangerous
  4. Do noise cancelling headphones worth it
  5. Do noise cancelling headphones cause vertigo?

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