Headphones are a device that best demonstrates the modern human condition. Today, headphones and earbuds let you separate yourself from people around you while simultaneously permitting you to connect to the entire world of sounds. They allow you to listen to music or watch Netflix or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But the way we normally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is very worrisome.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she usually cranks up the volume (there’s a particular satisfaction in listening to your favorite track at full volume). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This type 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 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 this is where it can become dangerous: 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 a wide variety of other health concerns have been associated with hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be a major component of your all-around well-being. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they create a health risk.
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? In an effort to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have put forward a number of steps to take:
- Restrict age: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people nowadays. And it may be wiser if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- Turn down the volume: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (60dB is the normal volume of a conversation to put it in context). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Try to be certain that your volume is less than half or look into the output of your particular headphones.
- 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 little too much. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to heed these warnings.
- Take breaks: It’s difficult not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. That’s understandable. But your hearing needs a bit of time to recuperate. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones every now and again. The strategy is, each day give your ears some lower volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from hurting your ears.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you might want to curtail the amount of time you spend on your headphones altogether.
I Don’t Actually Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t ignore the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your general mental health. Issues including have been connected to hearing impairment.
So your general well-being is forever connected to the health of your hearing. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone could become a health hazard. So the volume down a little and do yourself a favor.