Is there a device that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a global community of sounds while simultaneously enabling you to separate yourself from everyone you see. You can keep up with the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you find yourself. It’s pretty awesome! 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 worrisome.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances enjoys Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also cranks up the volume (there’s a particular enjoyment in listening to your favorite song at full power). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Of course, headphones can be used for lots of things but the basic concept is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can listen to anything we want) and also so we don’t bother the people near us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: we’re subjecting our ears to a significant amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Eventually, that noise can cause injury, which will lead to hearing loss. And a wide range of other health issues have been linked to hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Healthcare specialists consider hearing health to be a vital aspect of your all-around wellness. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they present a health threat.
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have offered several solid measures we can all use to help make headphones a little safer:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (60dB is the common level of a conversation for context). Unfortunately, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Determine the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it might be wiser if we cut back on that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can protect against the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss begins.
- 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 one to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But you need to take a bit of time to allow your ears to recover. So every now and again, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The idea is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and reducing) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from hurting your ears.
You might want to think about decreasing your headphone use altogether if you are at all concerned about your health.
I Don’t Actually Need to Worry About my Hearing, Right?
You only get one set of ears so you shouldn’t ignore the impact of hearing damage. But a few other health aspects, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for issues like dementia and depression.
So your total wellness is forever linked to the health of your hearing. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a bit.