Can Headphones Cause Tinnitus? How Do NC Headphones Prevent It?

I am using Sony wh-1000xm3 headphones, which are excellent for noise canceling. My routine is scheduled, so I must wear them for a long time to focus on my work. In this regard, people often ask me: Can Headphones Cause Tinnitus?


What is Tinnitus? It is a perception or one of the side effects of hearing loss that causes certain ringing sounds (roaring, buzzing, or hissing) in one or both ears. The source of these noises does not come from outside; instead, it is the outcome of the inner body. The produced sounds may be continuous or intermittent and low or high pitched.

In this article, I will discuss the answer to the global question of whether headphones cause tinnitus as I am a consistent headphone wearer and do not feel any buzzing sounds in my ears.

Additionally, is there a significance of noise-canceling headphones in reducing the disease? 

Does Using Headphones Cause Tinnitus?

The usage of headphones has increased to a greater level; if you look around, every person has a pair of headphones. I cannot deny the fact they are imperative in my life. Do not in your routines? From a broader perspective, no headphones cause hearing loss. 

Let me discuss what happens if you wear headphones all day and listen to music. Firstly you listen at high volumes, and then you are not ready to remove these for a second; then, how can you not suffer from hearing loss? Overall, the problem is how you use these devices and for how long?

Headphones work on simple phenomena; the headphones’ drivers transfer sound inside the ears, thus closing the ear compartment, and then the sound exerts pressure by hitting the eardrum. This pressure becomes more potent at high volumes, resulting in temporary ringing inside the ears. 

I can say neither Bluetooth nor wireless headphones have any part to play in triggering the sensation of tinnitus. Hearing loss, permanent or temporary, is a sign of older age. However, younger ones are also suffering these days due to the unsafe usage of headphones or constant exposure to high volume. Overall, headphones have nothing to do with tinnitus; they can be caused by damage to the auditory nerve at an early age or gradually develop through age.

Can Noise-Cancelling Headphones Give You Tinnitus?

As I have already discussed above, no headphones are involved in causing tinnitus. The fact is that noise-canceling headphones reduce the effects of tinnitus. Do you want to know how? These headphones work on two mechanisms to cancel the outer noise and prevent it from reaching up to the ear.

The first mechanism is to cancel the outer noises by putting the physical seal inside the ear coverings. The sealing process is known as soundproofing and is available in many peripheral noise-canceling over-ear headphones. PNC does not cancel the outer sides but reduces its effect.

The second mechanism that noise-canceling headphones use is the active canceling of opposing sounds by using a built-in microphone in the headphones. This device assesses the outer frequency and produces waves of equal frequency in reaction. In this way, two opposing waves collide and destroy each other. This mechanism is known as destructive interference.

Tinnitus is the perception of inside noise, and you cannot blame noise-canceling headphones as they are designed to cancel noise from outside. That’s why it is proven that noise-canceling headphones do not give you tinnitus.

Are Noise-Cancelling Headphones Good For Tinnitus?

What is the work of noise-canceling headphones? For me, they cut the outer noise, whether it be the dog’s barking, car horns, screaming, or anything I feel irritated from. Using noise-canceling headphones not only lets me focus on my work but also separates me from the outside noise pollution. 

These headphones deliberately filter the louder noise and make you listen to music at low volumes compared to regular ones, where you need to raise the volume, especially in crowded places. In case NC headphones make you habitual to listening at safer levels. So these headphones not only prevent the risk of hearing impairment but also reduce the impact of tinnitus.

Note: noise canceling headphones make you listen to tinnitus noise when wearing them for a long time because they cancel the outer sounds; thus, inside noise becomes prominent. 

Noise-canceling headphones are indeed excellent for reducing the outside noise heard by tinnitus patients. Although it is not a permanent solution to cure the disease, the fact is that sufferers feel temporary relief after wearing it.

Can Wearing Headphones Cause Ear Ringing?

According to me, if you listen to music at louder volumes, you invite tinnitus to damage your mental and body health. It leads to the sensation of ear ringing that may also annoy you. In this section, I will discuss the safe volumes that cause no damage to hearing ability. Thus, the chance of tinnitus will be automatically reduced.

However, it is common for people with hearing impairment to have more chances of developing tinnitus than those who have normal hearing. I suggest you keep the headphones’ volume to 80 decibels if you are an adult, and for kids, the maximum volume must be up to 75 decibels.

Moreover, over-ear and in-ear headphones have different ranges of safe volumes that you can maintain to avoid hearing impairment. For over-ear headphones, 70% of the device’s volume is more than enough, while for in-ear headphones that you can use interchangeably for earphones, 60% volume is best to protect ears.

Tips To Cure Tinnitus

As we all know, no regular headphones or noise-canceling headphones give you tinnitus, and it is due to nerve damage in the cochlea. Therefore, no physical sound and no cancellation by the headphones. A few tips to cure developing tinnitus are mentioned below:

  • Use noise-canceling headphones to cancel outside noise
  • Avoid exposure to loud noise/music
  • Refrain from complete silence
  • Do meditation or deep breathing
  • Use hearing aids

Best Headphones For Tinnitus – 3 Headphones To Consider

Tinnitus is a common issue for people who have jobs in noisy areas. Frequent buzzing sounds in the ear can cause permanent damage. I suggest you wear headphones to protect the ears from further loss. These headphones are not used to cure tinnitus but somewhat relax the sufferers.

Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650

The open-back design of Sennheiser pro headphones is efficient in keeping the air passage at safe levels and thus transferring warm and mid-tones. The additional factor of using these headphones to minimize the whispering sounds is that they prevent overheating the ears.

Warm tones reflect the ideal sound quality to combat tinnitus. Moreover, the plastic headband of the headphones causes you no difficulty in wearing them all day.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Bose stands at the top whenever there is a discussion of noise cancelation. These headphones are designed to provide luxury comfort to the users, and many tinnitus patients wear them for never-ending relaxation. 

The silicone headband and rotating ear cups are combined to make the person feel in heaven. Additionally, the leather ear cushions of the earpieces do not tighten the ears, and you enjoy wearing them in your hectic routines.

If we discuss the audio quality of the Bose headphones, it never disappoints you. The Ambient mode transfers balanced highs, mids, and lows. Four microphones are involved in the mechanism to cancel the outside noise. What else does the tinnitus patient need than this?

AfterShokz Aeropex

AfterShokz Aeropex is a new kind of headphone specially designed for people with hearing impairment. These headphones are lightweight and different in the frame than regular open-ear or in-ear headphones. They use a bone conduction mechanism that transfers sounds through the ear canal directly into the cochlea. 

Aeropex headphones are known to transmit softer sounds instead of bassy. Audio quality is not up to the mark for music enthusiasts, but for tinnitus sufferers, these are ideal with silicone material to wear according to their preferences.


Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Aggravate Tinnitus?

NC headphones do not aggravate tinnitus but rather reduce its impact. Listening at a louder volume may trigger ear ringing. Moreover, tinnitus is not the physical noise to be canceled by these headphones. You have to turn off the ANC mode that creates complete silence, and then you cannot hear your inner sounds. Try using headphones at average volume.

Can You Cancel Out the Noise Of Tinnitus?

Tinnitus may be temporary or permanent, but you can try everyday remedies to eliminate irritating noises. Masking is an excellent option to fight this disease. You can use a hearing aid that releases broad and narrow band noise at low levels, thus masking the tinnitus sounds in the ears.

Is it OK to use headphones with tinnitus?

There are two main situations for this, and you are meant to cure the newly developed tinnitus by wearing headphones to avoid the loud sounds within you. Secondly, you randomly put on the headphones and listen to music at high volumes. In that case, you should stop using headphones immediately.

Final Verdict | Can Headphones Cause Tinnitus?

As I mentioned above, I am a consistent headphones wearer and do not sense any tinnitus-related buzzing sounds. It is because of my precautions, like listening to music at recommended volume levels. This article is for people who have developed misconceptions about headphones causing tinnitus. In addition, I elaborated on how noise-canceling headphones help prevent tinnitus.

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