Is there a device that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to link to a global community of sounds while simultaneously enabling you to isolate yourself from everyone you see. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. They’re great. But the way we generally 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 troubling.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (the majority of people love to listen to their favorite music at full volume). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a fairly normal use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of things but the overall idea is the same.
We want to be able to listen to anything 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 extended amount of noise. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which will lead to hearing loss. And a wide assortment of other health issues have been connected to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is a crucial element of your overall health. And that’s why headphones pose somewhat of a health risk, especially since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get a hold of).
The question is, then, what can be done about it? Researchers have offered several solid steps we can all take to help make headphones a bit safer:
- Take breaks: It’s hard not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite tunes. Most people can relate to that. But your ears need a bit of time to recuperate. So consider giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones every now and again. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. By the same token, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Age restrictions: These days, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it’s probably a wise decision to reduce the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. The longer we can protect against the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss begins.
- Heed to volume warnings: 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. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to heed these warnings.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the maximum volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is about 60dB). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Find out the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you may want to reduce the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s not hard to consider damage to your ears as unimportant (which you should not do, you only have one set of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on numerous 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 wellness is forever linked to the health of your hearing. And that means your headphones could be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little bit.