Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds permit you to link to a global community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone you see. You can keep up with the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you are. It’s pretty amazing! But the way we generally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true regarding your hearing health. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is very worrisome.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (most people love to listen to their favorite music at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy other people with her loud music.
This is a fairly normal use of headphones. Certainly, there are lots of other reasons and places you could use them, but the basic purpose is the same.
We want to be able to listen to whatever we want without disturbing people around us, that’s why we use headphones. But this is where it can become dangerous: our ears are subjected to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. Over time, that noise can cause injury, which will lead to hearing loss. And a wide variety of other health issues have been linked to hearing loss.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare professionals think of hearing health as an essential component of your all-around health. And that’s the reason why headphones present something of a health hazard, particularly since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get your hands on).
What can you do about it is the real question? In an effort to make headphones a bit safer to use, researchers have put forward a number of measures to take:
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really like, it’s difficult not to crank it up. That’s easy to understand. But you need to take a bit of time to let your hearing to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones now and then. The concept is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. Reducing your headphone time and checking volume levels will definitely decrease injury.
- Turn down the volume: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (for context, the volume of a normal conversation is around 60dB). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Find out the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people these days. And it may be smarter if we reduce 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.
- Volume warnings are important: 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 pay attention to these warnings.
You might want to think about decreasing your headphone usage entirely if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s not hard to consider damage to your hearing as unimportant (which you shouldn’t do, you only have one set of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on a number of other health factors, including your general mental health. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for issues like dementia and depression.
So your total well-being is forever linked to the health of your hearing. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health risk. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little.