Headphones are a device that best reflects the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds let you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone around you. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from everywhere. They’re wonderful. But the way we generally use them can also be a health risk.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. That’s exceedingly worrying because headphones are everywhere.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. When she’s really getting into it she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a special enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at max volume). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Sure, there are lots of other purposes and places you could use them, but the basic function is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can 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: 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 conditions have been associated with hearing loss.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as a crucial aspect of your all-around health. And that’s the reason why headphones present somewhat 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? Researchers have provided several concrete measures we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- 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 for context). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to be sure that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
- Restrict age: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it may be wiser if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t set in as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really like, it’s tough not to pump it up. That’s easy to understand. But your ears need a bit of time to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute break. The strategy is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. Limiting your headphone time and watching volume levels will definitely decrease injury.
- Volume warnings are important: It’s likely that you listen to your music 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 very important for your hearing health to comply with these warnings as much as you can.
You may want to consider decreasing your headphone use altogether if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as unimportant (which you should not do, you only have one set of ears). But a few other health aspects, including your mental health, can be influenced by hearing problems. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for issues like depression and dementia.
So the health of your hearing is linked inextricably to your total well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.