Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a global community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone you see. They allow you to watch Netflix or listen to music or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re incredible. But the way we tend to use them can also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is very worrisome.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances enjoys listening to Lizzo all the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (the majority of people love to jam out to their favorite music at full volume). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This kind of headphone use is fairly common. Certainly, there are plenty of other purposes and places you might use them, but the fundamental purpose is the same.
We want to be able to listen to whatever we want without annoying people around us, that’s why we use headphones. But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re subjecting our ears to a significant amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which will lead to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been linked to a wide range of other health-related problems.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as a vital element of your overall well-being. Headphones are easy to get a hold of and that’s one reason why they pose a health threat.
The question is, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have put forward a few concrete steps we can all use to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not exceed a volume of 85dB (60dB is the common volume of a conversation for context). Regrettably, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Determine the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Restrict age: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people these days. And it’s likely a wise choice to minimize the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can counter some damage when you’re younger.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. Most people can relate to that. But you should take a little time to let your hearing to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones every now and again. The concept is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- 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 start pumping up the volume a bit too much. It’s incredibly important for your ear health to comply with these warnings as much as you can.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend using your headphones entirely.
I Don’t Actually Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your hearing as unimportant (which you should not do, you only have one pair of ears). But numerous other health aspects, including your mental health, can be impacted by hearing problems. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for issues like dementia and depression.
So the health of your hearing is linked inextricably to your overall well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone could become a health risk. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.