A significant increase in hearing loss among adolescents from age 12 to 19 has otolaryngologists concerned about the use of headphones and earbuds, says Brian Nicholas, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology and communications sciences at Upstate Medical University. The type of hearing loss doctors are seeing is the type usually associated with aging. It is permanent, non-reversible hearing loss — but it can be prevented. Nicholas says the volume and the duration of sound contribute to hearing loss. So if you are going to listen to music with earbuds or headphones, play it at no more than 60 or 70 percent and for no longer than an hour between breaks.