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I have been told many times by my teachers and grandparents that using in ear headphones will ruin my hearing, but I was unsure of these claims. So of course I turned to stack exchange to help me.

So really I'd like to know the effect on hearing from frequent earphone use (particularly as I listen to quite a lot of loud rock music)?

Thanks.

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The main effect on hearing is the volume of the sound. Both the intensity and duration matter. However, it seems like hearing loss from personal music players is not as prevalent as from other causes like gunfire or occupational noise exposure (see also here).

The specific problem with in-ear headphones is people tend to listen to them louder than other types of headphones, here is an example study that shows this result.

So, in summary, there isn't anything wrong with in-ear headphones if you listen at a low volume, but be wary that peoples' tendency is to listen louder with in-ear headphones, and you already mentioned liking loud music. The volume is going to be your problem.

Be very wary with your hearing though: once you have lost hearing, there is no way to get it back at this time. Hearing aids only temporarily compensate for the loss. You might be okay now but regret a lifetime of noise exposure by the time you are an older adult.

References:

Clark, W. W. (1991). Noise exposure from leisure activities: a review. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 90(1), 175-181.

Hodgetts, W. E., Rieger, J. M., & Szarko, R. A. (2007). The effects of listening environment and earphone style on preferred listening levels of normal hearing adults using an MP3 player. Ear and hearing, 28(3), 290-297.

Mostafapour, S. P., Lahargoue, K., & Gates, G. A. (1998). Noise‐induced hearing loss in young adults: The role of personal listening devices and other sources of leisure noise. The Laryngoscope, 108(12), 1832-1839.

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