Is there a device that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to isolate yourself from everyone around you. They allow you to listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from everywhere. They’re fabulous. But headphones could also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.
Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys 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 particular enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at full power). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This kind of headphone usage is pretty common. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of purposes but the general concept is the same.
We want to be able to listen to whatever we want without disturbing people around us, that’s why we use headphones. But this is where it can get dangerous: we’re subjecting our ears to a considerable amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Over time, that noise can cause injury, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide variety of other health issues have been connected to hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare specialists think of hearing health as a key component of your overall health. Headphones are easy to get a hold of and that’s one reason why they present a health risk.
What can you do about it is the real question? Researchers have provided several solid measures we can all use to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Restrict age: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people nowadays. And it’s definitely a smart move 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.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. Most people can relate to that. But you need to take a little time to allow your ears to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute break. The concept is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep higher volumes from damaging your ears.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (to put it in context, the volume of a normal conversation is around 60dB). 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 up the output of your particular headphones.
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you might want to reduce 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 young, it’s not hard to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one pair of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your overall mental health. Problems such as have been linked to hearing impairment.
So your overall well-being is forever linked to the health of your hearing. And that means your headphones could be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little.