Although it may not seem like your music is loud enough to harm you when you’re blasting Beyoncé on repeat, be careful. Hearing issues are more common than you may realize, and your favorite pair of headphones could be part of the problem—but there’s a way to save your ears without sacrificing your jam sesh.
According to Time, more than 48 million Americans have hearing-related ailments, and while studies show other common noises can do more harm to your hearing than headphones, loud music definitely wreaks its fair share of havoc. And that level ranges from person to person, depending on if you have tough or tender ears.
If you hear ringing in your ears—or everything seems muffled—after taking out your earbuds, you need to turn down the volume immediately. It’s a surefire sign you’re causing your ears long-term damage. —Dr. M. Charles Liberman
According to M. Charles Liberman, PhD, a professor of otolaryngology (a specialty that focuses on conditions of the ear, nose, and throat) at Harvard Medical School, there’s a simple hack you can use to make sure your earbuds aren’t to blame for hearing loss down the line: If you hear ringing in your ears—or everything seems muffled—after taking out your earbuds, you need to turn down the volume immediately. It’s a surefire sign you’re causing your ears long-term damage, even if your hearing returns to normal.
And if you’re in a loud environment and are turning up the music to cancel out everything else going on, be extra careful; that intense volume could hurt your hearing even more. Instead, opt for noise-canceling headphones, which will block out other sounds and allow you to keep the volume down.
With that being said, make sure to look both ways while out on a run because really great headphones could prevent you from noticing traffic noises or other sounds you may actually need to hear.