Is there a gadget that reflects the present human condition better than headphones? Modern wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while simultaneously enabling you to isolate yourself from everyone around you. They allow you to watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But headphones could also be a health risk.
This is particularly true regarding your hearing health. And the World Health Organization agrees. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
Some Risks With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she normally 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 things but the overall idea 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 a prolonged and intense way. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been associated with a wide variety of other health-related problems.
Protect Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is an essential component of your complete health. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health hazard, particularly since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get a hold of).
The question is, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have put forward a few solid steps we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really like, it’s hard not to pump it up. Most people can relate to that. But your hearing needs a bit of time to recover. So every now and again, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes every day. By the same token, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (to put it in context, the volume of a normal conversation is about 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to be sure that your volume is less than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- 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 start cranking up the volume a bit too much. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are wearing headphones. And it may be smarter 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 stop 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 Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one pair of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health aspects, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing issues. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to increases in the chances of issues like depression and dementia.
So your general wellness is forever linked to the health of your hearing. And that means your headphones could be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little.