Listening to loud music through headphones could lead to tinnitus

‘I woke up one morning with a terrible ringing – I realised I would have it for the rest of my life’

Over a quarter young people suffer from tinnitus, a ringing, whistling, or buzzing in the ear, a recent study reveals and most of it is caused by listening to loud music.

Synaptic injuries in the inner ear (cochlea) – that occur by listening to loud music, or going to clubs and raves – are believed to reduce our sound level tolerance.

Scientists say a sound of 85 decibels (dB) is considered dangerous, potentially leading to a loss of hearing. Listening to music on your iPhone at full volume represents 100 dB and a typical gig has a dB level of 115.

“I woke up one morning and had a terrible ringing sound in my ears,” said James Moss, a musician who suffers from tinnitus, in a video for the Action on Hearing Loss association. “A couple of months later, I realised I had tinnitus, and that it was going to be there for the rest of my life. It’s a really low humming sound or high pitched shrill, and it’s very uncomfortable.”


The damage is often unnoticeable until it’s too late. The study, conducted in Sao Paolo, Brazil, with 11 to 17-year-olds, deduced that the heightened sensitivity in the ears experienced by these adolescents were signs that auditory nerves may be permanently damaged.

Of the 170 participating in the study, 28.8 per cent of them suffered from chronic tinnitus, and over 50 per cent of them had experienced temporary tinnitus in their lifetime. In the United Kingdom, about seven million people have experienced tinnitus at least once, and over 500 thousand claim that tinnitus has had severe impacts on their lives.

To avoid tinnitus, experts say you should wear ear plugs to raves and nights out and avoid listening to your iPhone if the volume settings appear red on your screen.