Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a global community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to isolate yourself from everybody around you. They allow you to listen to music or watch Netflix or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. They’re great. But headphones might also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
Some Risks With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (the majority of people love to listen to their favorite music at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t bother others with her loud music.
This is a pretty typical use of headphones. Certainly, there are plenty of other purposes and places you might use them, but the primary purpose is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can listen to whatever we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people near us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: we’re exposing our ears to a significant amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the damage caused by this prolonged exposure. And hearing loss has been associated with a wide variety of other health-related conditions.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be a vital aspect of your general wellness. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health risk, particularly since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are very easy to get your hands on).
What can you do about it is the real question? Researchers have offered a few concrete steps we can all use to help make headphones a little safer:
- Take breaks: It’s hard not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. That’s understandable. But your ears need a little time to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones now and then. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and reducing) your headphone-wearing time can help keep higher volumes from hurting your ears.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it’s likely a wise decision to minimize the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. The longer we can prevent the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss begins.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 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 normal conversation is about 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Determine the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. It’s incredibly important for your ear health to adhere to these warnings as much as possible.
You might want to think about minimizing your headphone use altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
You only have one pair of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on numerous other health factors, including your general mental health. Problems like have been connected to hearing impairment.
So your hearing health is linked inextricably to your total well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone could become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little.