Is there a gadget that exemplifies the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to link to a global community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to separate yourself from everyone you see. They let you listen to music or watch Netflix or keep up with the news from anywhere. It’s pretty awesome! But the way we generally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And the World Health Organization confirms this also. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo all of the time. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (there’s a special satisfaction in listening to your favorite song at max volume). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This kind of headphone usage is fairly common. Of course, headphones can be used for lots of things but the overall concept is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we are able to listen to whatever we want) and also so we don’t bother the people around us (usually). But that’s where the danger is: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. After a while, that noise can cause injury, which will lead to hearing loss. And a wide assortment of other health problems have been linked to hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Hearing health, according to healthcare specialists, is a key part of your general health. And that’s why headphones pose somewhat of a health hazard, especially since they tend to be everywhere (headphones are rather easy to get your hands on).
The question is, then, what can you do about it? So that you can make headphones a bit safer to use, researchers have provided a number of steps to take:
- Take breaks: It’s difficult not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But your ears need a little time to recuperate. So think about giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones every now and again. The concept is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. By the same token, monitoring (and reducing) your headphone-wearing time can help keep higher volumes from injuring your ears.
- Restrict age: These days, younger and younger kids are using headphones. 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 occur as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- Pay attention to volume warnings: It’s likely that you listen to your tunes on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you begin cranking up the volume a little too much. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Turn the volume down: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go over a volume of 85dB (to put it in context, the volume of a typical conversation is about 60dB). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to make sure that your volume is lower than half or look into the output of your specific headphones.
You may want to consider minimizing your headphone use altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your hearing as unimportant (which you should not do, you only get one set of ears). But several other health factors, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for issues like depression and dementia.
So your total wellness is forever linked to the health of your hearing. And that means your headphones could be a health risk, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.