Headphones are a device that best reflects the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to link to a worldwide community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to isolate yourself from everyone around you. They allow you to watch Netflix or listen to music or keep up with the news from anywhere. It’s pretty amazing! But headphones could also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. That’s exceedingly worrying because headphones can be found everywhere.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. When she’s really getting into it she usually cranks up the volume (most people love to jam out to their favorite music at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t bother other people with her loud music.
This is a pretty common use of headphones. Sure, there are plenty of other purposes and places you might use them, but the fundamental function is the same.
We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (so we can listen to whatever we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people around us (usually). But this is where it can get dangerous: our ears are exposed to an intense and extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the injury caused by this extended exposure. And hearing loss has been associated with a wide range of other health-related ailments.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare experts consider hearing health to be an essential component of your overall health. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they create a health risk.
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have provided numerous tangible measures we can all use to help make headphones a little safer:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (to put it in context, the volume of a typical conversation is around 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Try to be certain that your volume is lower than half or look up the output of your specific headphones.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it might be smarter if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can protect against the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss sets in.
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really enjoy, it’s hard not to crank it up. Most people can relate to that. But your hearing needs a little time to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones now and then. The idea is, each day give your ears some lower volume time. Decreasing your headphone time and checking volume levels will definitely reduce 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 begin pumping up the volume a bit too much. It’s extremely important for your ear health to stick to these cautions as much as you can.
You might want to consider reducing your headphone usage altogether if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Actually Need to Worry 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 have one pair of ears). But several other health factors, including your mental health, can be impacted by hearing problems. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for problems like depression and dementia.
So your hearing health is linked inextricably to your overall well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health risk. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a bit.