According to Dr. Harter, the prevalent hearing devices you see stuck in the ears of children, teenager, fitness junkies and commuters are, in fact, dangerous to your hearing.
Ear buds are particularly efficient at producing loud volume. They fit tightly in the ear and are much closer to the eardrum than ear phones. That tight fit ensures all the sound energy is focused on the hearing mechanism, as opposed to ear phones, which allow some sound to escape.
Dr. Harter says that, while more expensive, noise-cancelling earphones are a safer alternative. If you do use earbuds, make sure the volume is low.