Is there a device that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Nowadays, headphones and earbuds let you separate yourself from people around you while simultaneously allowing you to connect to the whole world of sounds. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. They’re fabulous. But the way we normally use them can also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.
Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she usually cranks up the volume (most people love to listen to their favorite music at full volume). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of purposes but the overall concept is the same.
We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (so we are able to listen to whatever we want) and also so we don’t bother the people near us (usually). But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re subjecting our ears to a considerable amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which will lead to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been connected to a wide variety of other health-related illnesses.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as an essential aspect of your all-around well-being. And that’s the reason why headphones pose somewhat of a health risk, particularly 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 offered several tangible steps we can all use to help make headphones a little safer:
- Turn the volume down: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not exceed a volume of 85dB (60dB is the average volume of a conversation for context). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Determine the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Heed to volume warnings: It’s likely that you listen to your music on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you begin cranking up the volume a little too much. It’s very important for your ear health to comply with these cautions as much as you can.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people these days. And it might be wiser if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can avoid some damage when you’re younger.
- Take breaks: It’s difficult not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But you need to take a little time to allow your hearing to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones here and there. The strategy is, every day give your ears some lower volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you might want to reduce the amount of time you spend on your headphones altogether.
I Don’t Really Need to Worry About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s not hard to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you should not do, you only get one pair of ears). But your hearing can have a huge impact on a number of other health factors, including your overall mental health. Conditions including have been connected to hearing impairment.
So your hearing health is connected inextricably to your overall well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone could become a health risk. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little bit.