Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today, headphones and earbuds enable you to separate yourself from everyone around you while at the same time enabling you to connect to the whole world of sounds. You can keep up on the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you are. It’s pretty amazing! But the way we generally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true regarding your hearing health. And the World Health Organization agrees. That’s exceedingly worrying because headphones are everywhere.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also cranks up the volume (there’s a certain enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy other people with her loud music.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Of course, headphones can be used for a lot of purposes but the general idea is the same.
We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (so we are able to listen to anything we want) and also so we don’t bother the people around us (usually). But this is where it can get dangerous: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. Over time, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide assortment of other health concerns have been connected to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare experts think of hearing health as a key component of your overall well-being. And that’s the reason why headphones present something of a health risk, especially since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get your hands on).
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? So that you can make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have put forward several steps to take:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go over a volume of 85dB (60dB is the average volume of a conversation to put it in context). Regrettably, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Find out the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people nowadays. And it might be wiser if we cut back on that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can counter some damage when you’re younger.
- Pay attention to volume warnings: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume becomes dangerous. It’s extremely important for your hearing health to adhere to these cautions as much as you can.
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really enjoy, it’s difficult not to pump it up. Most people can relate to that. But you should take some time to let your hearing to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones every now and again. The strategy is, every day give your ears some low volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep higher volumes from injuring your ears.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to restrict the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
I Don’t Actually Need to Worry About my Hearing, Right?
You only have one pair of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But numerous other health factors, including your mental health, can be influenced by hearing issues. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the risk for issues like dementia and depression.
So your hearing health is linked inextricably to your total wellness. And that means your headphones could be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.