Headphones are a device that best reflects the modern human condition. Modern wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds let you to link to a global community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone you see. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But the way we generally use them can also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
Some Risks With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo a lot. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (most people love to jam out to their favorite music at full volume). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a pretty normal use of headphones. Certainly, there are lots of other purposes and places you could use them, but the basic purpose is the same.
We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (so we are able to listen to whatever we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people around us (usually). But that’s where the hazard lies: our ears are exposed to an intense and extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the injury caused by this extended exposure. And a wide assortment of other health issues have been associated with hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be a vital element of your general well-being. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health hazard, especially since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get your hands on).
The question is, then, what can be done about it? Researchers have offered numerous tangible steps we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- Listen to volume warnings: It’s likely that you listen to your music on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you start cranking up the volume a bit too much. It’s extremely important for your ear health to adhere to these warnings as much as you can.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. That’s easy to understand. But you should take a bit of time to let your hearing to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute break. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes every day. By the same token, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Turn down the volume: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not go over a volume of 85dB (to put it in context, the volume of a normal conversation is about 60dB). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Determine the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people these days. And it might be smarter if we reduce that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can prevent some damage when you’re younger.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend using your headphones altogether.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one pair of ears). But your hearing can have a huge impact on numerous other health factors, including your general mental health. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for problems like depression and dementia.
So your general wellness is forever connected to the health of your ears. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health risk. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a bit.