Headphones are a device that best reflects the modern human condition. These days, headphones and earbuds enable you to separate yourself from people around you while at the same time allowing you to connect to the entire world of sounds. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But headphones may also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (there’s a certain satisfaction in listening to your favorite track at max power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t bother others with her loud music.
This kind of headphone use is pretty common. Of course, headphones can be used for lots of things 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 near us (usually). But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re exposing our ears to a considerable amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Hearing loss can be the result of the harm caused by this extended exposure. And hearing loss has been connected to a wide variety of other health-related ailments.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals think of hearing health as an essential component of your general well-being. And that’s why headphones pose something of a health risk, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are really easy to get a hold of).
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? In order to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have put forward a number of measures to take:
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume becomes dangerous. It’s very important for your ear health to comply with these cautions as much as you can.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is about 60dB). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t measure their output in decibels. Determine the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really like, it’s tough not to crank it up. That’s understandable. But you should take a little time to let your ears to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones every now and again. The strategy is, every day give your ears some low volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- Age restrictions: These days, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it might be wiser if we reduce that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t set in as soon if you can prevent some damage when you’re younger.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend using your headphones altogether.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s not hard to consider damage to your hearing as unimportant (which you shouldn’t do, you only have one pair of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on numerous other health factors, including your overall mental health. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the chances of issues like depression and dementia.
So the health of your hearing is connected inextricably to your overall well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health risk. So the volume down a little and do yourself a favor.