Headphones are a device that best reflects the modern human condition. Nowadays, headphones and earbuds let you separate yourself from everyone around you while at the same time allowing you to connect to the entire world of sounds. They allow you to watch Netflix or listen to music or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re wonderful. But headphones could also be a health risk.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. That’s especially worrying because headphones can be found everywhere.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances enjoys listening 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 type of headphone use is relatively common. Certainly, there are lots of other purposes and places you might use them, but the fundamental purpose 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 don’t bother the people near us (usually). But that’s where the hazard is: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. After a while, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide assortment of other health concerns have been connected to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare professionals think of hearing health as a major component of your overall well-being. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they present a health risk.
What can you do about it is the real question? Researchers have offered numerous concrete measures we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really like, it’s difficult 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 then, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. Reducing your headphone time and watching volume levels will definitely decrease damage.
- Turn the volume down: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not exceed a volume of 85dB (60dB is the normal level of a conversation for context). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Try to be sure that your volume is lower than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- Age restrictions: These days, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it’s definitely a wise choice to limit the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can avoid some damage when you’re younger.
- 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 little too much. It’s very important for your ear health to stick to these warnings as much as you can.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you may want to curtail the amount of time you spend using your headphones altogether.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re young, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you should not do, you only have one set of ears). But several other health aspects, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing issues. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for problems like dementia and depression.
So the health of your hearing is linked inextricably to your overall wellness. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.