Are noise-cancelling headphones safe?

Last update on Feb, 19, 2024

How do noise-cancelling headphones work?

Active noise-cancelling headphones can eliminate sounds and background noises that interfere with our phone calls or disrupt our concentration.

The mechanism behind this function is a small microphone that, thanks to specific algorithms, emits inverted sound waves in order to neutralise unwanted sounds.

Who needs headphones with noise cancelling?

Noise-cancelling headphones are suitable for inviduals who need to concentrate on their listening. In particular, for people who work in open-plan offices or engage in frequent phone calls or online meetings throughout the day.

However, its benefits extend to everyone, including music and podcast enthusiasts who want to immerse themselves in their audio even in crowded places, or those who like to fall asleep to their favourite sounds.

Why choose Amplifon?

By choosing Amplifon as your hearing care provider, you’re choosing to be cared and looked after by qualified and experienced Audiologists who can help change the way you listen to the world around you.

Are noise-cancelling headphones good for the ears?

Several studies have shown that noise-cancelling headphones are absolutely safe and pose no signifcant health risks. However, it must be taken into account that the prolonged use of these particular headphones may present certains risks.

What are the possible risks of noise-cancelling headphones?

Improper use of noise-cancelling headphones can pose risks. For this reason, individuals must be mindful of the timing, volume levels and environments in which they use them. Here are a few examples.

Wearing noise-cancelling headphones all day long

Like all types of headphones, prolonged use of active noise-cancelling headphones can damage your hearing, especially if they are used at high volume. To prevent discomfort, it is recommended take a listening break every hour to relieve pressure on the ears.

Possible risk in traffic and public areas

The benefits of noise-cancelling headphones can turn into risks if we do not pay attention to the context in which we use them. Our hearing ability is one of our most useful senses, often warning us of incoming danger. However, if headphones block these signals, our ability to protect ourselves is compromised. For this reason, moderate use of noise cancellation is recommended in crowded environments, particularly outdoors and in traffic.

Long-term consequences of noise cancelling

The hair cells are very delicate and do not regenerate once damaged, which is why using noise-cancelling headphones correctly is essential to prevent issues like muffled hearing and the development of buzzing or pain. In severe cases, the long-term consequences of prolonged or incorrect use of noise cancelling headphones can be irreversible.

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How to prevent hearing damage with noise-canceling headphones

As mentioned above, noise-cancelling headphones are safe but they only protect our ear health if they are used correctly. In order to do this, we need to take a few small precautions. 

Keeping the volume reasonable

Excessively high volume levels in headphones are very damaging to your hearing health, due to the proximity of the sound source to the receptors in the ear. Vibrations can damage the hair cells permanently, diminishing our ability to perceive sounds. The recommended volume for our health is about 60 decibels, which is the same volume of a normal conversation.

Limit listening time

The daily use of headphones exposes our ears to a lot of stress, so it is recommended to only use them when necessary. For example, it is best to avoid using them at home or whilst driving, or in contexts where sound is easily audible without the use of headphones.

Adjust professional guidelines

To clarify any doubts about the correct use of active noise-cancelling headphones, it is best to refer to the guidelines usually provided by the product manufacturer or on their webiste.

Noise-cancelling headphones: yes or no?

Noise-cancelling headphones can enable us to be more efficient and productive, as long as we use them correctly. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the simple rules outlined in this article, including:

  • avoiding prolonged use
  • taking a break every hour
  • avoid excessively high volume levels
  • paying close attention to the environment when outdoors or while driving.

Other questions? Come and visit us in an Amplifon clinic

Book an appointment and come and visit us at one of our Amplifon clinics, our hearing care professionals will be ready to answer any of your curiosities about the world of hearing and to show you our range of Amplifon hearing aids.

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