Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Nowadays, headphones and earbuds permit you to separate yourself from everyone around you while at the same time allowing you to connect to the whole world of sounds. They allow you to listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re incredible. But headphones could also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. That’s especially troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a certain satisfaction in listening to your favorite song at max power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t bother others with her loud music.
This type of headphone use is fairly common. Sure, there are lots of other reasons and places you might use them, but the basic function 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 lies: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the harm caused by this extended exposure. And hearing loss has been linked to a wide variety of other health-related ailments.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is a crucial component of your overall health. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they create a health hazard.
What can be done about it is the real question? So that you can make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have provided several measures to take:
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to pay attention to these warnings.
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really enjoy, it’s hard not to pump it up. That’s understandable. But you need to take some time to let your hearing to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones here and there. The idea is, each day give your ears some low volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people nowadays. And it’s definitely a smart decision 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.
- Turn the volume down: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (to put it in context, the volume of an average conversation is around 60dB). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to make sure that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
If you’re at all worried 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 Worry About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one pair of ears so you shouldn’t dismiss the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health factors, including your mental health, can be influenced by hearing problems. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for problems like depression and dementia.
So your overall wellness is forever connected to the health of your ears. And that means your headphones may be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.