Everyday life can be a major contributor to harmful sounds that potentially damage your ears. Police sirens, heavy traffic on a major road or even living near an international airport with extremely loud jet engines puts you at risk of developing serious and irreversible hearing conditions.

You may or may not be exposed to loud sounds on either a regular, prolonged or continuous basis but you might be one of the 70% of adults that listens to music on a daily basis. Music is a potential source of harmful sounds as many people listen at a higher than recommended level. Hearing health professionals recommend that you take every precaution necessary to protect your ears from harmful noise and while most people enjoy loud music, they are unwittingly damaging their hearing.

Using earplugs beats the whole point of listening to music so some stylish ways to protect your hearing are with:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Sleep headphones
  • Noise-isolating earbuds

Many brands of standard headphones aren’t attuned properly when it comes to taking ear protection into account and can be harmful, so specially designed noise cancelation might be necessary while tight-fitting sleep headphones can be a great alternative to annoying earplugs and noise isolating earbuds provide a passive noise reduction in harmful frequencies.  

Noise-canceling headphones

The current trend in music headphones technology, noise-canceling headphones have been primarily designed to filter external audio sources to provide a better music experience. However, they have also been designed for hearing protection from the harmful frequencies that standard headphones retain.

Because standard headphones do not filter external sounds, they force you to listen at a higher than recommended volume in order to experience all the layers and nuances of music that you are listening to, which can lead to irreversible ear damage. Noise-canceling technology means that you can experience a superior audio quality at a much lower volume.

Sleep headphones

Environmental noise such as street traffic, noisy neighbors and even air conditioning units can all contribute to poor REM sleep in an individual. As such, you might look for potentially harmful solutions such as sleeping tablets, self-medication or full-insert earplugs, which while harmless themselves, can cause earwax build-up and irritation when used for long periods. 

A recent development, sleep headphones are a cheap and effective way to aid sleeping and protect your ears from potentially harmful external sounds or internal ear protection devices that aren’t meant for use while sleeping. These headband-like devices fit around your head and ears and contain stereo headphones for relaxing music or REM-boosting white noise.   

Noise-isolating earbuds

A good and cheaper alternative to expensive noise-canceling headphones, noise-isolating earbuds can provide some ear protection when listening to music or audio although that isn't what they are designed for. Similar to earplugs, these can be fully inserted into your ear canal in order to provide a better audio experience.

While they don’t completely block external audio sources as noise-canceling headphones do, these devices can lower the effects of external sounds by around 15dB to 30dB because they physically seal the entrance to the ear in the same way as protective earplugs do. This means that you can listen to music at a lower, safer volume compared to over-ear headphones that typically do not filter any external audio.