How are earbuds impacting your hearing?

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Trendy headphones and earbuds are popular among all ages, but it's important to know how the 'buds affect your hearing.

Dr. Sharon Sandridge of Cleveland Clinic says the brand or type of headphone generally doesn't matter - it's the volume, or decibel level, coupled with how long they're listening that counts.

"You can be perfectly safe with any set of headphones, with any set of music players, as long as you listen to it within the safe range," she says.

Dr. Sandridge says listening to music at 85 decibels is considered safe, as long as you're listening for less than eight hours. Once the decibel level is increased, you have to decrease the exposure time to remain within the safe listening range.

For example, if you're listening to a music player at full intensity, which is about 102 decibels, you can only listen to about two or three songs safely. When the ear is exposed to excessively loud sound for too long, microscopic damage is done deep inside the ear. This damage silently accumulates over a lifetime and results in irreversible hearing loss.

Dr. Sandridge says it's important for parents to talk to their kids about protecting their hearing, and for those who may be confused about what classifies as a safe decibel level, she suggests using an easy rule of thumb. 

"If somebody can hear the music coming from your headphones while you're listening to them, then they are potentially too loud," she says.

Dr. Sandridge warns parents to be wary of music player headphones marketed to limit volume, as research has shown that the claim may be false. She recommends parents have 'limiting' headphones tested by a professional to make sure they are controlling the output of sound. You can also restrict volume on your iPhone or Android using settings or apps.