Is there a device that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds let you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to separate yourself from everybody around you. They allow you to listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from everywhere. They’re great. But the way we generally use them can 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 stated. 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 jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a special enjoyment in listening to your favorite track at max power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of things but the basic concept is the same.
We want to be able to listen to whatever we want without bothering people around us, that’s why we use headphones. But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re subjecting our ears to a significant amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Eventually, that noise can cause damage, which will lead to hearing loss. And a wide variety of other health conditions have been associated with hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be a major aspect of your overall well-being. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they pose a health risk.
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? In order to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have offered numerous steps to take:
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it might be wiser if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can protect against the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss sets in.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the maximum volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (60dB is the average volume of a conversation to put it in context). Regrettably, most mobile devices don’t evaluate their output in decibels. Try to be sure that your volume is lower than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really like, it’s hard not to crank it up. That’s easy to understand. But you need to 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, each day give your ears some lower volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and reducing) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- 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 heed these warnings.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you might 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 have one set of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your overall mental health. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for issues like dementia and depression.
So your total well-being is forever connected to the health of your ears. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health risk. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.