Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today, headphones and earbuds permit you to isolate 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 keep up with the news from everywhere. They’re wonderful. But headphones may also be a health risk.
This is specifically true regarding your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also stated. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she normally 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 enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly common use of headphones. Needless to say, headphones can be used for lots of things but the overall idea 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’re not bothering the people near us (usually). But that’s where the hazard lies: we’re exposing our ears to a considerable amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Eventually, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And a wide variety of other health issues have been connected to hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is an integral part of your complete health. And that’s why headphones present something of a health risk, particularly since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are really easy to get a hold of).
What can you do about it is the real question? So that you can make headphones a bit safer to use, researchers have provided numerous steps to take:
- Don’t turn them up so loud: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (for context, the volume of a typical conversation is something like 60dB). Unfortunately, most mobile devices don’t calculate their output in decibels. Look into the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
- Restrict age: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people these days. And it may be wiser if we reduce that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can avoid some damage when you’re younger.
- 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 start pumping up the volume a little too much. It’s very important for your ear health to stick to these cautions as much as possible.
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really like, it’s tough not to crank it up. That’s understandable. But you should take a bit of time to let your hearing to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones every now and again. The concept is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. In the same way, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
You may want to think about minimizing your headphone use altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
I Don’t Actually Need to Worry About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you should not do, you only get one set of ears). But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your overall mental health. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the chances of problems like dementia and depression.
So the health of your hearing is linked inextricably to your all-around well-being. And that means your headphones may be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little.