Is there a device that reflects the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a worldwide community of sounds while at the same time enabling you to isolate yourself from everybody around you. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re fabulous. But headphones may also be a health hazard.
At least, as far as your hearing health is concerned. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also acknowledged. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
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 particular satisfaction in listening to your favorite tune at full power). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This kind of headphone use is fairly common. Needless to say, headphones can be used for a lot of things but the basic 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 around us (usually). But that’s where the hazard lies: our ears are subjected to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. After a while, that noise can cause damage, which leads to hearing loss. And hearing loss has been connected to a wide variety of other health-related problems.
Protect Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is an essential part of your complete health. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health hazard, especially 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 little safer to use, researchers have offered several measures to take:
- 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 begin pumping up the volume a little too much. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (60dB is the normal volume of a conversation for context). Most mobile devices, regrettably, don’t have a dB volume meter standard. Try to be certain that your volume is less than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
- 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 your hearing needs a little time to recover. So every now and then, give yourself at least a five minute rest. The idea 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: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people these days. And it’s likely a wise move to reduce the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t develop as soon if you can counter some damage when you’re younger.
You might want to consider minimizing your headphone usage altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
I Don’t Really Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?
When you’re young, it’s easy to consider damage to your ears as unimportant (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one pair of ears). But a few other health factors, including your mental health, can be impacted by hearing problems. Issues like have been linked to hearing impairment.
So your hearing health is linked inextricably to your all-around well-being. And that means your headphones might be a health hazard, whether you’re listening to music or a baking podcast. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a bit.