Is there a device that reflects the current human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds enable you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while simultaneously enabling you to separate yourself from everybody you see. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from everywhere. They’re wonderful. But the way we generally use them can also be a health risk.
This is particularly true with regards to your hearing health. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. That’s especially troubling because headphones are everywhere.
Some Hazards With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo a lot. When she’s really jamming out she normally cranks up the volume (there’s a certain satisfaction in listening to your favorite tune at full power). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t annoy others with her loud music.
This is a fairly typical use of headphones. Sure, there are lots of other reasons and places you could use them, but the primary purpose is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we are able to listen to anything we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people near us (usually). But this is where it can become dangerous: we’re exposing our ears to a significant amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Hearing loss can be the result of the harm caused by this prolonged exposure. And hearing loss has been linked to a wide range of other health-related problems.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Healthcare professionals consider hearing health to be an essential element of your overall wellness. And that’s why headphones pose something of a health risk, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are quite easy to get a hold of).
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have offered numerous solid measures 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 music. Most people can relate to that. But your hearing needs a bit of time to recuperate. So every now and again, give yourself at least a five minute break. The strategy is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. Decreasing your headphone time and monitoring volume levels will undoubtedly decrease damage.
- 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 cranking up the volume a little too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to pay attention to these warnings.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people these days. And it might be smarter if we cut back on that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- 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 normal volume of a conversation to put it in context). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Find out the max volume 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 restrict the amount of time you spend on your headphones altogether.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
You only get one pair of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But numerous other health aspects, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Neglected hearing loss has been connected to increases in the chances of problems like dementia and depression.
So the health of your hearing is connected inextricably to your overall wellness. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and turn the volume down, just a little bit.