Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to link to a worldwide community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to isolate yourself from everybody 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 tend to use them can also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also acknowledged. That’s especially troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys listening to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she usually cranks up the volume (there’s a particular enjoyment in listening to your favorite track at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This type of headphone use is pretty common. Of course, headphones can be used for a lot of things but the overall idea is the same.
We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (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 get dangerous: we’re exposing our ears to a significant amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the injury caused by this extended exposure. And a wide variety of other health problems have been linked to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as an essential element of your overall health. And that’s the reason why headphones pose somewhat of a health risk, especially since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are really easy to get your hands on).
What can be done about it is the real question? Researchers have put forward a few concrete steps we can all take to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume becomes dangerous. It’s incredibly important for your hearing health to adhere to these cautions as much as possible.
- Turn down the volume: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (60dB is the typical level of a conversation to put it in context). Regrettably, most mobile devices don’t measure their output in decibels. Try to make sure that your volume is lower than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
- Take breaks: It’s hard not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But you need to take some time to let your ears to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones here and there. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. Limiting your headphone time and watching volume levels will definitely reduce injury.
- Age restrictions: These days, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it may be smarter if we reduce that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend wearing headphones. Hearing loss won’t set in as soon if you can avoid some damage when you’re younger.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you might want to reduce the amount of time you spend using your headphones entirely.
I Don’t Actually Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t ignore the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a substantial impact on numerous other health factors, including your general mental health. Conditions including have been connected to hearing impairment.
So your total wellness is forever linked to the health of your ears. And that means your headphones could be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little.