Ear buds can be a popular choice for the type of headphones students use while walking the streets and sidewalks on their way to class.
Many people, however, are unaware of how the volume of their music can negatively affect their hearing, Dr. Judy Creuz, audiology professor and clinic coordinator for the Penn State Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic, said.
Any noise level over 85 decibels can cause damage, and most ear buds are 110 decibels at full volume, Creuz said.
There are little hair cells in the inner ear that respond to different frequencies, and high noise levels destroy these small cells, Creuz said. The more cells you lose, the more damage is caused to your hearing, she added.
There is an established rule that listening to headphones at 60 percent volume for 60 minutes a day is the acceptable amount, Creuz said. The professor also noted as you decrease the percentage of volume, the minutes of listening can go up.
Creuz said that noise-canceling headphones are better than ear buds because ear buds do not block out background noise, causing the need for an increase in volume. Ear buds also bring the sound in closer to the eardrum, Creuz said.
Creuz is also offering free hearing screenings at her clinic, 110 Ford Building, during the month of April. If anything is of concern during the screening, further evaluation can be scheduled at the clinic, Creuz said.
As far as University Health Services is concerned, there are not many resources for any kind of hearing evaluation.
“We don't provide hearing evaluations…our providers are general clinicians…we don't have any specialists on campus,” UHS employee Paula McCartney, said. “We would work with a student's insurance if they had a problem, and refer them somewhere in town."
Among students though, there is a difference of opinion. Some students say that people with ear buds in are unapproachable.
“If you see someone with headphones in, they're hard to approach — you just assume that their music is too loud for them to hear you,” Kelsey Flynn (senior-supply chain management) said.
Chris Gerace (freshman- biology and pre medicine) said that he doesn’t use ear buds because of the damage it causes to hearing but when he does he keeps the sound down.
“People think their grandparents are hard of hearing,” Gerace said. “That’s going to be us when we’re 30. I try to keep the volume down to 20 to 25 percent and I use noise-canceling headphones.”
Jeff Ryan (senior-supply chain management) said that ear buds are better because they’re more convenient to carry around. Ryan said that he thinks the ear buds will hurt him in the future, but he continues to use them anyway.