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Can Noise-Canceling Headphones Stop Hearing Loss? What to Know

Can Noise-Canceling Headphones Stop Hearing Loss? What to Know

Oct 9,2023
Noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones
In today's noisy environment, noise-induced hearing loss is a serious threat. The risk of hearing loss increases when you listen to loud music with headphones, but what does one do when the environment is always so noisy that you have to constantly turn up the volume?

Noise-canceling headphones can end the never-ending battle between your headphones and external sounds. By blocking background noise, they allow you to lower the volume of your music or podcasts, which helps protect your hearing.

Noise-canceling headphones are more popular than ever, however, noise-canceling headphones aren't always the right answer for hearing protection. Read on to find out why.

Passive Noise Reduction and Active Noise Reduction

Two types of noise-canceling headphones protect your hearing in two very different ways.

Passive noise canceling (PNC) headphones essentially provide sound isolation through a heavy-duty design, isolating your ears from external sounds. PNC headphones typically fit tightly and can feel heavy, but they can effectively drown out sounds, especially explosive transients like gunshots and firecrackers, and high-frequency sounds like babies crying or dogs howling.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) headphones use sound-matching technology to "cancel" external sounds. They work by identifying the pitch of nearby ambient sounds, such as the whir of a jet engine or the collective buzz of a packed coffee shop; they work best where the overall sound and volume remain constant.

ANC headphones require some "settling" time to measure the sound waves and then produce canceling sound waves that are 180 degrees out of phase.

Can Noise-Canceling Headphones Protect Hearing?

Yes and no. Noise-canceling headphones can protect your ears to a certain extent, but they're not perfect.

Passive noise-canceling headphones protect your hearing because they protect your ears from loud sounds from the outside, especially transient sounds like gunshots or explosions.

Active noise-canceling headphones can protect your hearing to a certain extent because by blocking out outside noise, you don't have to listen to music as loudly. But that doesn't mean you can't still damage your hearing by using noise-canceling headphones. Loud music damages the tiny sensory hair cells in the inner ear that help send auditory signals to the brain. The smaller the size, the less potential damage to these cells. ​
But ANC headphones can't protect you from sudden, explosive sounds because they rely solely on the ANC mechanism and don't offer the protective seal that PNC headphones do. A pair of headphones that combines PNC construction with ANC technology will provide the best protection in all scenarios.

But remember, noise-canceling headphones are not hearing protection devices. If you are regularly exposed to loud noises that can damage your hearing, then you should take real hearing protection measures and leave nothing to chance. The use of earplugs, earmuffs, or specialized equipment is recommended.

Should I Buy Passive Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

If you want to protect your ears from explosive or high-frequency sounds, PNC headphones are your best choice. Because ANC headphones take some time to recognize external sounds and match them, they're not good at adapting and protecting you from transient sounds. However, if you're looking purely for ear protection, you might be better off wearing protective earmuffs.

If you want to avoid the constant buzz of public transportation, busy streets, and crowded offices, ANC headphones can help. By listening to music at lower volumes, you can significantly reduce your risk of noise-induced hearing loss, and ANC headphones can do this.

It's worth noting that noise-canceling headphones are not a good choice for listening to music while exercising outdoors. In situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings (such as riding a bike on a busy street), you'll want to follow these tips to stay safe while wearing headphones while running or biking.

Other Ways to Protect Your Hearing

Using noise-canceling headphones is a great way to passively protect your hearing. They block outside noise and allow you to enjoy your music at a lower volume. This is a big deal because loud music is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.

Let's discuss other daily steps you can take to protect your hearing.

Get a Hearing Test: Here's the thing about hearing loss, it may fade away over time. So gradual that you don't even notice it happening. Our brains are good at adapting to hearing loss - we read lips and rely on social cues. A baseline hearing assessment can help track your hearing loss over time and compare the results to future tests. 

Don't Listen Too Loud: This isn't just your music; it's your music too. Watching TV and talking on the phone at a lower volume are simple ways to reduce hearing loss. 

Avoid Putting Anything in Your Ears: Nothing should be put in your ears except earplugs. Do not use cotton swabs to clean your ears. They push earwax toward the eardrum or pierce the eardrum. 

Use Hearing Protection: Just because something isn't loud doesn't mean it won't damage your hearing. Power tools and lawnmowers may not be as loud as concerts or gunshots, but they can still damage your hearing over time. It is best to always wear ear protection when engaging in loud activities. 

Meet your Hearing Needs: If you find yourself in need of hearing aids, the good news is that they are more accessible than ever. Hearing aids can be purchased over the counter and come in many different styles. You don't have to live with hearing loss. Talk to your doctor or specialist to determine your device needs.

In Conclusion

In summary, noise-canceling headphones can play a key role in preventing hearing loss. They act as a shield against the constant assault of noise in our daily lives, maintaining the sensitivity of our ears. However, it is crucial to use them wisely and in conjunction with responsible volume levels. Remember, the quality of your headphones matters, so invest wisely to protect your hearing. If you want to buy noise-canceling headphones, please contact us.

ACCMercado provides professional consumer electronics solutions. Our main products include headphones, portable charging stations, power banks and data cables, etc. Our services are based on 20 years of mature industry experience, and we cooperate with various powerful partners to meet the regional needs of global customer brands and provide professional-stop third-party brand customization services. We can provide you with wholesale options on all products to meet your specific business needs and save you money with our competitive discount rates on large volume orders.
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