These days, headphones join us on the bus, on the train, on the sidewalk, mid-conversation with a friend, and in the check-out line. These contexts might make it difficult to hear, which might lead us to turn the volume all the way up.

But how loud is too loud? A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that increasing the volume on your headphones to drown out background noise can increase your risk of hearing loss.

Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston, addressed this issue in a recent article. He explained when to be concerned about the use of headphones and what we can do to reduce our risk of hearing loss, such as lowering the volume or reducing listening time. As a recent New York Times article points out, other options include using earbuds that build volume safety into their hardware.

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