Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. These days, headphones and earbuds enable you to separate yourself from people around you while at the same time enabling you to connect to the entire world of sounds. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. They’re wonderful. But headphones could 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 reported. That’s especially worrying because headphones are everywhere.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo a lot. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also cranks up the volume (most people love to jam out to their favorite music at full power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly typical use of headphones. Sure, there are lots of other purposes and places you could use them, but the basic function 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 around us (usually). But that’s where the hazard lies: we’re exposing our ears to a significant amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Eventually, that noise can cause damage, which will lead to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been linked to a wide variety of other health-related problems.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals think of hearing health as a vital aspect of your overall wellness. And that’s why headphones present somewhat of a health hazard, particularly since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are very easy to get your hands on).
What can be done about it is the real question? Researchers have put forward several solid measures we can all take 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 (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 make sure that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your specific headphones.
- Listen to volume warnings: It’s likely that you listen to your tunes on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you start pumping up the volume a little too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to heed these warnings.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. That’s understandable. But your ears need a little time to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The concept is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it’s probably a wise move to minimize the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. The longer we can avoid the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss takes hold.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to curtail the amount of time you spend on your headphones altogether.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
You only get one pair of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But several other health factors, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Problems like have been connected to hearing impairment.
So your general well-being is forever connected to the health of your ears. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little bit.