Is there a device that exemplifies the present human condition better than headphones? Nowadays, headphones and earbuds permit you to isolate yourself from everyone around you while simultaneously allowing you to connect to the entire world of sounds. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from anywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But headphones could also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo a lot. When she’s really getting into it she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a certain enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at max volume). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a pretty common use of headphones. Sure, there are plenty of other purposes and places you could use them, but the fundamental purpose is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can listen to whatever we want) and also so we don’t bother the people around us (usually). But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re exposing our ears to a considerable amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been connected to a wide range of other health-related conditions.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare specialists think of hearing health as a major aspect of your all-around health. Headphones are easy to get a hold of and that’s one reason why they create a health risk.
The question is, then, what can be done about it? In an effort to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have offered several measures to take:
- 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 cranking up the volume a bit too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to pay attention to these warnings.
- Take breaks: It’s hard not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. That’s easy to understand. But you should 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, each day give your ears some low volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep higher volumes from damaging your ears.
- Restrict age: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it may be smarter if we cut back on that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend wearing headphones. The longer we can stop the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss takes hold.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is something like 60dB). Regrettably, most mobile devices don’t evaluate their output in decibels. Find out the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as unimportant (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one set of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your general mental health. Problems such as have been linked to hearing impairment.
So the health of your hearing is connected inextricably to your overall wellness. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So the volume down a little and do yourself a favor.