Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Modern wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone around you. You can keep up on the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you find yourself. They’re great. But headphones may also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she normally cranks up the volume (the majority of people love to jam out to their favorite music at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This kind of headphone usage is relatively common. Certainly, there are lots of other purposes and places you might use them, but the fundamental function is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can listen to anything we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people near us (usually). But that’s where the hazard lies: we’re subjecting our ears to a significant amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Eventually, that noise can cause injury, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide range of other health problems have been linked to hearing loss.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare specialists, is a major element of your overall health. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they pose a health threat.
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? In order to make headphones a bit safer to use, researchers have offered a number of measures to take:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is around 60dB). Unfortunately, most mobile devices don’t evaluate their output in decibels. Find out the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really enjoy, it’s difficult not to pump it up. That’s understandable. But your ears need a bit of time to recuperate. So consider giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones now and then. The strategy is, every day give your ears some low volume time. Decreasing your headphone time and checking volume levels will definitely lessen injury.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it may be smarter if we reduce that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can stop the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss takes hold.
- Heed to volume warnings: It’s likely that you listen to your tunes on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you start pumping up the volume a bit too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
You may want to think about minimizing your headphone use altogether if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re young, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as unimportant (which you shouldn’t do, you only have one pair of ears). But several other health aspects, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for problems like dementia and depression.
So your general well-being is forever connected to the health of your ears. And that means your headphones might be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.