Christmas warning on headphones hearing damage

With headphones, smartphones, tablets, and other personal devices topping the Christmas gift lists, Hidden Hearing has issued a warning about safe volume levels for festive music and movie choices.

Research has shown that a third of Irish people who listen to music on a mobile phone or device such as an MP3 player is listening to dangerously high levels, and for twice as long as is safe.

High volumes, anything over 100 decibels/dB, are the top setting on most personal devices and is the equivalent of noise levels from a jet airplane taking off or a rock concert.

The advice from Hidden Hearing audiologists is to follow the 60/60 rule when listening to music using headphones – listening levels up to 60% of the maximum volume, for a total of 60 minutes a day.

On average, however, people listen to music on their device for almost two hours (113 minutes) a day, the survey showed.

Almost half of the Irish adults (48%) listen to music using in-ear earphones, which can potentially cause more hearing damage than headphones. This climbs to 74% among 18–24-year-olds.

In-ear buds, often used by children on tablets and phones, offer less protection than headphones, according to Dolores Madden, who is an audiologist and the Hidden Hearing Marketing Director.

“It’s not so much the noise, but the sound pressure with earbuds that can cause harm. It goes straight into the inner ear canal and is dangerous if people are listening for long periods at maximum volume”, she says.

The message is, turn down the volume and let your ears do what they are designed for, the audiologist advises.

“Our ears are very sophisticated listening devices already that will expertly deliver the best sound experience without the need to blast out the noise” Dolores Madden explains.

The incidence of hearing loss in younger people is increasing, which Hidden Hearing audiologists attribute to the overuse of earphones and devices that are set too loud.

Worryingly, almost one in five people surveyed (17%) deliberately set the volume to maximum loudness. And, one in ten people aged 25-34 said they would not be worried by permanent ringing or buzzing in their ears, demonstrating a lack of awareness of the damage and risks associated with sustained exposure to loud noise.

Tinnitus, ringing in the ears, usually begins at 127 dB, and can be an early indicator of hearing loss.

With one in 2 young people, aged 18-24, showing early signs of noise-induced hearing loss, Hidden Hearing audiologists say it will become more commonplace for people in their 30s and 40s to need a hearing aid.

The World Health Organisation estimates that up to one-third of hearing loss in the world’s population is preventable, so boosting awareness of dangerous noise levels is important.


If listening with headphones to your personal device, you should be able to clearly hear someone talking to you in a normal voice at arm’s length away.
Set a safe listening limit on your devices. Go to ‘settings’ to override the 100dB (decibel) volume limit setting – around 60dB is best.
Observe the 60/60 rule – listen at 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day, and take regular breaks

Hidden Hearing is Ireland’s longest-established exclusive hearing care specialist, with over 30 years of experience and over 80 locations countrywide. The healthcare providers’ mission is to help people hear better, transforming lives with expertise, care, and support.

Good hearing is important to feel connected, to communicate with family and friends, and to give an overall sense of health and wellbeing.

Free hearing tests, free sample hearing aids, and ear wax consultations are available at Hidden Hearing clinics, where health and safety are the foremost considerations. Employees have had extensive training on COVID safety procedures and can ensure a safe and comfortable visit. Book a free hearing test online today at or freephone 1800 370 000.