Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Today, headphones and earbuds allow you to isolate yourself from people around you while simultaneously enabling you to connect to the whole world of sounds. You can keep up with the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music anywhere you are. It’s pretty amazing! But the way we tend to use them can also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. That’s especially worrying because headphones are everywhere.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a certain satisfaction in listening to your favorite song at max volume). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This kind of headphone usage is pretty common. Of course, headphones can be used for lots of purposes but the general 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’re not bothering the people around us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the harm caused by this prolonged exposure. And a wide assortment of other health conditions have been connected to hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be a major component of your overall health. And that’s the reason why headphones present something of a health risk, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are rather easy to get your hands on).
What can be done about it is the real question? In an effort to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have put forward a few steps to take:
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people these days. And it’s definitely a wise choice to limit the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. Most people can relate to that. But you should take some time to let your hearing to recover. So every now and again, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes every day. In the same way, monitoring (and reducing) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Turn down the volume: 85dB is the maximum volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (for context, the volume of an average conversation is around 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Look into the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Listen to volume warnings: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume becomes dangerous. It’s extremely important for your hearing health to comply with these warnings as much as you can.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t ignore the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health factors, including your mental health, can be impacted by hearing issues. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to increases in the chances of problems like depression and dementia.
So your hearing health is connected inextricably to your overall wellness. And that means your headphones could be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little.