Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. These days, headphones and earbuds permit you to separate yourself from everyone around you while simultaneously allowing you to connect to the whole world of sounds. You can keep up with the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you find yourself. They’re fabulous. But the way we tend to use them can also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also stated. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially worrisome.
Some Hazards 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 (there’s a certain satisfaction in listening to your favorite track at full power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a fairly typical use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of purposes but the basic concept is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we are able to listen to anything we want) and also so we don’t bother the people near us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: we’re subjecting our ears to a considerable amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the harm 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 key element of your all-around health. And that’s the reason why headphones pose somewhat of a health hazard, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are quite easy to get your hands on).
What can you do about it is the real question? Researchers have offered a few solid steps we can all take to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Volume warnings are important: 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 incredibly important for your hearing health to comply with these cautions as much as possible.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. Most people can relate to that. But you should take a bit of time to let your ears to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The strategy is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep higher volumes from hurting your ears.
- Turn the volume down: 85dB is the maximum volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is about 60dB). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t measure their output in decibels. Try to be sure that your volume is less than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- Age restrictions: These days, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it might be smarter if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend wearing headphones. The longer we can protect against the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss takes hold.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you might want to reduce the amount of time you spend using your headphones altogether.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t dismiss the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health factors, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing issues. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the chances of issues like depression and dementia.
So your overall wellness is forever connected to the health of your hearing. And that means your headphones could be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So the volume down a little and do yourself a favor.