Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Nowadays, headphones and earbuds let you separate yourself from everyone around you while at the same time permitting you to connect to the whole world of sounds. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. They’re incredible. But the way we generally use them can also be a health risk.
At least, as far as your ears are concerned. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also acknowledged. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones are everywhere.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also cranks up the volume (most people love to listen to their favorite music at full power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of things but the overall concept 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 around us (usually). But that’s where the danger lies: our ears are exposed to an intense and extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the injury caused by this prolonged exposure. And a wide variety of other health conditions have been connected to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare specialists consider hearing health to be a key component of your general well-being. And that’s why headphones pose somewhat of a health risk, particularly since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are very easy to get your hands on).
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? Researchers have put forward a few tangible steps we can all take to help make headphones a little safer:
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. It’s very important for your ear health to stick to these cautions as much as possible.
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really enjoy, it’s difficult not to crank it up. Most people can relate to that. But your hearing needs a little time to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones now and then. The idea is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep higher volumes from injuring your ears.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (for context, the volume of an average conversation is around 60dB). Unfortunately, most mobile devices don’t measure their output in decibels. Try to be sure that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
- Restrict age: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people these days. And it might be smarter if we reduce that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend wearing headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can prevent some damage when you’re younger.
You may want to think about reducing your headphone usage altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
You only have one set of ears so you shouldn’t dismiss the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your general mental health. Problems including have been linked to hearing impairment.
So the health of your hearing is connected inextricably to your all-around well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health risk. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.