Healthy Tips

Earbud Safety: Know and Manage Your Risk

Woman listening to music through ear buds

Earbuds are small, but powerful, and are more common today than ever, thanks to smartphones and other devices. But be careful, as all that jamming may be causing damage to your ears. The World Health Organization has expressed concern that more than one billion young people may be at risk of hearing loss. Some specialists say they are already seeing higher rates of hearing loss in younger populations than they have in year’s past.1

If you’re going to use earbuds, do it safely — and encourage the children and young adults in your life to do the same. Here are some tips:

  • Use the 60/60 rule: No more than 60 percent volume for no more than 60 minutes.2 After that, give your ears a rest. While damage can occur in as little as eight minutes, longer exposure increases the risk.
  • If you want to block out background noise, consider earphones instead of earbuds.3 Many models of earphones are designed to cancel out other noises — no need to turn up the volume to dangerous levels.
  • You don’t need the loudest, most expensive earbuds on the market. It may be cheaper and safer to go with lower-end earbuds.
  • For overall safety, don’t wear earbuds while driving, bicycling or jogging on public streets, or in other situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings. Remember that others may not realize you are wearing them, so they may think you can hear what they are saying or shouting.


  1. K Nathanson, S James. Generation Deaf: Doctors Warn of Dangers of Earbuds. May 17, 2016. Accessed September 11, 2018.
  2. Mayo Clinic News Network. J Olsen. The 60-60 rule for safer listening. September 8, 2017. Accessed September 11, 2018.
  3. Earbuds. January 2015. Accessed October 24, 2018.

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This content is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.


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