Is there a gadget that reflects the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds permit you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to isolate yourself from everybody you see. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re wonderful. But headphones could also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys listening to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a certain enjoyment in listening to your favorite track at max volume). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This kind of headphone usage is pretty common. Certainly, there are lots of other reasons 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 don’t bother the people around us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: our ears are exposed to an intense and extended amount of noise. After a while, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide assortment of other health concerns have been associated with hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals think of hearing health as a crucial aspect of your all-around wellness. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health hazard, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are really easy to get a hold of).
What can you do about it is the real question? Researchers have put forward numerous tangible steps we can all use to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But you need to 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 idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Volume warnings are important: 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. It’s extremely important for your ear health to adhere to these warnings as much as possible.
- Restrict age: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people nowadays. And it’s probably a wise move to minimize the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. The longer we can stop the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss sets in.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not exceed a volume of 85dB (60dB is the typical volume of a conversation for context). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Try to be certain that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
You may want to consider reducing your headphone usage altogether if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Actually Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health factors, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the chances of problems like dementia and depression.
So your overall wellness is forever linked to the health of your ears. And that means your headphones may be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a bit.