Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to isolate yourself from everyone you see. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. They’re incredible. But the way we generally use them can also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is very worrisome.
Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a special satisfaction in listening to your favorite song at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This type of headphone use is fairly common. Sure, there are lots of other purposes and places you might use them, but the fundamental function is the same.
We want to be able to listen to anything we want without bothering people around us, that’s why we use headphones. But that’s where the danger lies: our ears are subjected to an intense and extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the damage caused by this prolonged exposure. And a wide range of other health concerns have been associated with hearing loss.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare specialists consider hearing health to be a major element of your general well-being. And that’s the reason why headphones pose somewhat of a health hazard, particularly since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are really easy to get a hold of).
The question is, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have put forward a few tangible measures we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really enjoy, it’s difficult not to pump it up. Most people can relate to that. But you should take a bit of time to allow your ears to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones here and there. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (for context, the volume of a normal conversation is around 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Determine the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people nowadays. And it’s likely a smart choice to limit the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can counter some damage when you’re younger.
- Heed to volume warnings: 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. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to pay attention to these warnings.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you might want to curtail the amount of time you spend using your headphones altogether.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s not hard to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one set 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 the health of your hearing is connected inextricably to your overall wellness. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little bit.