Can AirPods Help With Tinnitus?


Tinnitus is a condition that can cause those who suffer from it a lot of distress. It is a sign there is something wrong with a part of a person’s auditory system, and can be temporary or in some cases, permanent.

Can AirPods help with tinnitus?

AirPods can provide relief from tinnitus. While the earbuds will not remove the sound of tinnitus, using them can distract a person and help them to focus on other sounds that are more pleasant. Using AirPods for sound therapy is an effective way to manage tinnitus in the short term.

Experts have learned a lot about tinnitus and what causes it in the past few decades, but there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the condition.

This is largely because tinnitus is experienced differently in every individual’s case.

AirPods have the potential to help with tinnitus if used correctly, but as with all headphones or earbuds, they can also make it worse if they are used irresponsibly.

In this guide, I’ll explore this topic in further detail.

How AirPods Can Help With Tinnitus

Apple’s AirPods have emerged as one of the most popular earbuds in recent years. Their rapid rise is down to a combination of their convenient, wireless design, good sound quality, and comfort.

For people who experience the ringing, buzzing or other noises associated with tinnitus, however, AirPods may interest them for another reason.

  • Is it really possible that these Bluetooth earbuds could help ease their tinnitus?

The answer to this question is likely to be different for each case. Nevertheless, there is evidence that using AirPods to reduce the discomfort caused by tinnitus is possible, providing they are used in a certain way.

Sound therapy is one of the main treatments for tinnitus that has proven successful at relieving the symptoms in the short term, and potentially in the long term.

While there are specific methods within this treatment category, they generally consist of exposing the person to sounds for substantial periods to alter their perception of tinnitus.

  • AirPods are a great candidate for providing sound therapy. Unlike most headphones or earbuds, AirPods have several onboard settings that make them better equipped to help with tinnitus.

Firstly, AirPods can be used in “Transparency Mode”.

This mode allows the listener to hear more of the background noises outside of the earbuds, which is likely to result in a reduction of the perception of tinnitus-related sounds.

Additionally, AirPods Pro can now be used as hearing aids in iOS 14.

This incredible update by Apple makes their earbuds even more suitable for tinnitus sufferers looking for relief from the condition.

Sound therapy consists of exposing the person to specifically-chosen sounds, which are usually high in pitch and soft in timbre.

These sounds draw the attention away from the noises associated with tinnitus and allow the person to experience respite in the short term.

In the long-term, sound therapy using AirPods can also be effective because it can train the person to focus more on background noises rather than being completely absorbed by the sound of tinnitus.

Can AirPods Cause Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by one of several factors. The most common cause of long-term tinnitus is exposure to loud sounds. It can occur suddenly if the person is exposed to a high-volume sound, or over time.

AirPods, like all headphones or speakers, have the potential to cause tinnitus if they are used in high volumes.

This is most likely to happen if the volume that the person listens to audio at through their AirPods is consistently high, but could also happen for other reasons.

Some AirPods users report experiencing tinnitus after using the devices in “Noise Cancellation” mode. This mode reduces the volume of outside sounds so that the audio from the AirPods can be more clearly heard by the listener.

  • The problem with using noise cancellation is that it can lead you to believe that the audio is being played at a lower volume than it is.

This is because you’re expecting not to be able to hear any background noise, but if you were using the AirPods in their standard mode, the volume of background noise is a good indicator of the volume coming through the earbuds.

AirPods can certainly cause tinnitus if they are used incorrectly. It’s therefore imperative that you check the volume before playing audio, and always listen at the quietest possible audible level to reduce the risks.

The table below shows the daily exposure time to sound decibels before they cause damage.

dBTime Without EarplugsTime With Earplugs
130dB1 second90 seconds
120dB7 seconds12 minutes
110dB1 minute 50 seconds2 ½ hours
105dB4 minutes7 hours
95dB1 hourUnlimited

Do AirPods Make Tinnitus Worse?

Although tinnitus can be caused by ear infections, wax build-up, and other factors, the most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. If you experience tinnitus as a result of listening to loud music or other forms of audio, the most important thing is to ensure it doesn’t get worse.

AirPods and all headphones or earbuds are a double-edged sword when it comes to tinnitus.

As I previously explained, they can be used to relieve tinnitus and are effective at doing so in many cases. Conversely, they also have the potential to make tinnitus worse.

The main issue with noise-induced tinnitus is that people often react to the loss of hearing that the condition causes by listening to louder volumes. This may indeed give the illusion that the tinnitus has subsided, but in reality, there’s a real danger that it could be made worse.

AirPods fit inside the ear and therefore the speaker is positioned very close to the inner ear, which is highly sensitive.

If a tinnitus sufferer uses AirPods at a relatively high volume, there’s a strong chance that the damage could worsen.

Again, the key to ensuring that your tinnitus doesn’t get worse when using AirPods is ensuring that you listen to appropriate volumes all of the time. This will allow you to use AirPods without running the risk of damaging your auditory system any further.

Airpods Pro is now available, I have written a comprehensive guide to help you decide if you should choose AirPods or AirPods Pro. There are various pros and cons to both.

This guide will help you decide if AirPods Pro is worth it for your circumstances and needs.

You can read this guide here.

Here’s a video that shows how to activate the noise canceling on AirPods.

AirPods and Ear Pressure

Ear pressure is caused by earbuds, earplugs, or any other device that is lodged inside a person’s ear. It can cause the user to experience headaches, pain in the ears, and increases the chance of tinnitus, ear infections, or other forms of hearing damage.

Compared to most similarly-designed earbuds, Apple’s AirPods are generally comfortable to wear. They have an ergonomic design, which allows them to be slotted into the ears without needing to be shoved in too far to stay in place.

However, it’s important to note that every person’s ears are different. Therefore, while AirPods may not cause ear pressure for one person, another person may experience discomfort due to the shape or size of their ears not being compatible with the design of the AirPods.

If you experience pain or discomfort while wearing AirPods, or feel that you need to push them in quite far to get them to stay in place, you might need to opt for a different model or some other headphones with a design that better suits your needs.

In-ear vs. Over-ear Headphones and Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a complicated condition that varies from person to person. One of the common debates amongst experts and tinnitus sufferers is whether in-ear headphones or over-ear headphones are better for preventing and managing the condition.

Evidence suggests that while both types of headphones can be effective at relieving tinnitus if used correctly, over-hear headphones tend to be better suited to this purpose.

This is because over-ear headphones usually it on the ears with a little bit of space between the inbuilt speakers, and the listener’s ear canal. This space means that the sound waves have further to travel before they reach the inner ear.

Earbuds and in-ear headphones are lodged inside the ear canal, and their inbuilt speakers are positioned closer to the listener’s ear, so that sound travels less distance before it comes into contact with the inner ear.

Another factor is noise cancellation. Over-ear headphones, like the AirPods Max, naturally cancel more noise than in-ear headphones, simply because they cover the ear and black external sound waves from entering the ear canal. This makes the user less likely to turn up the volume to dangerous levels.

In-ear headphones generally don’t block out external noise as effectively as over-ear equivalents, which makes the user more likely to turn up the volume to contend with the background sounds, thus increasing the risk of tinnitus and hearing damage.

Related Questions

How long does temporary tinnitus last on average?

Experts predict that most cases of short-term tinnitus last for between 16 to 48 hours. However, in some cases, temporary tinnitus can go on for up to two or three weeks, depending on the severity and the cause.

Are AirPods Noise Cancelling?

Although standard AirPods don’t have noise cancellation modes, Airpods Pro and AirPods Max both offer this feature.

By choosing “Active Noise Cancellation”, users can reduce the prominence of background noises while using their AirPods.

What volume should I use my AirPods at to prevent tinnitus?

Ideally, AirPods should be used no louder than 85dB. This level is considered safe for most people, but if you already have tinnitus it’s a good idea to reduce the volume even further to prevent it from becoming worse.

Can reset Airpods Be Tracked?

I have written an article the goes into detail on this subject. You can read this article here.

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