Can earphones damage your hearing

Wearing earphones (headphones or earbuds) is increasingly popular among young people and adults. Whether at home, at work or riding in the car, electronic devices are omnipresent in our lives.

And that raises a common question: Can earphones cause hearing damage?

Factors to consider

To determine whether your earphone use could be damaging your hearing, consider your listening time (the number of hours you use your earphones) as well as the volume at which you listen to music or videos.

These two factors determine whether your earphone use is dangerous or not.

Studies have shown that hearing can be damaged when exposed to sound exceeding 75 decibels for eight hours.

The listening environment

You should also analyze the environment in which you use earphones. The louder the surrounding noise, the more you will tend to raise the volume. Also, a low-pitched sound will seem louder to you than a high-pitched sound at the same volume.

You can create the impression that your music is louder by raising the bass in your device’s settings while keeping the volume at a safe level for your hearing.

Choosing the right earphones

Buying the right earphones can also reduce the risk of hearing damage. Earbuds that fit deep into your ear canal, headphones that fit snugly on your head or earphones with built-in noise reduction will help you avoid turning up the volume to an excessive level.

To sum up, it isn’t necessarily dangerous to listen to music with earphones if you take some precautions. 

And remember, if you raise the volume, make sure you don’t listen for long periods.


Most electronic devices let you set a maximum volume that you will not be able to exceed. Others notify you when you go over that limit. Just make sure you set the limit in a relatively quiet environment.


BY Frédérike Juneau-Rouleau, Audiologist, at our partner Polyclinique de l’Oreille