Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to separate yourself from everyone you see. You can keep up on the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music anywhere you are. It’s pretty amazing! But the way we generally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true regarding your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also stated. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially worrisome.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (the majority of people love to listen to their favorite music at full power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a fairly typical use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of things but the basic concept 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 don’t bother 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 a prolonged and intense way. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the harm caused by this extended exposure. And hearing loss has been connected to a wide variety of other health-related problems.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as an essential aspect of your all-around health. Headphones are easy to get a hold of and that’s one reason why they present a health hazard.
The question is, then, what can be done about it? Researchers have offered several tangible measures we can all take to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Take breaks: It’s hard not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. That’s easy to understand. But you need to take a little time to let your ears to recover. So every now and again, give yourself at least a five minute break. 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 will help keep higher volumes from injuring your ears.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people nowadays. And it may be smarter if we reduce that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can prevent the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss takes hold.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not exceed a volume of 85dB (for context, the volume of an average conversation is something like 60dB). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to be certain that your volume is less than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. It’s very important for your hearing health to adhere to these cautions as much as you can.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you might want to curtail the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
When you’re young, it’s not hard to consider damage to your hearing as trivial (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one pair of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on a number of other health factors, including your general mental health. Conditions including have been connected to hearing impairment.
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 might become a health hazard. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.