How to choose the ones that are better at protecting your ears
Exposing your ears to loud noise over time can kill off the tiny hair cells in your ear that transmit sound signals to your brain. When enough of these cells die, you end up with a hearing problem.
It’s true that today’s smartphones, MP3 players, and other portable listening devices can’t be cranked up as loud as those of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (think Sony Walkmans), notes Brian Fligor, Ph.D., an audiologist and chief development officer of Lantos Technologies, a Massachusetts firm that custom-fits earbuds and earplugs. But, he says, “they’re worse because way more people use the devices, and for longer periods of time.”
In addition, experts say, more of us are using personal listening devices and headphones in noisier environments—on trains and in airplanes, for instance—where we may turn up the volume to potentially dangerous levels.
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