Headphones are a device that best exemplifies the modern human condition. Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds permit you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to isolate yourself from everybody you see. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or keep up with the news from anywhere. They’re wonderful. But the way we normally use them can 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. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
The Hazard of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really getting into it she usually cranks up the volume (there’s a special satisfaction in listening to your favorite track at full power). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This is a pretty common use of headphones. Certainly, there are plenty of other purposes and places you might use them, but the primary function is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we can listen to whatever we want) and also so we don’t bother the people around us (usually). But this is where it can get dangerous: our ears are exposed to an intense and prolonged amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the harm caused by this prolonged exposure. And a wide assortment of other health issues have been associated with hearing loss.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is an important part of your complete health. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they present a health threat.
So here is the question, then, what can be done about it? In an effort to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have put forward a few steps to take:
- Volume warnings are important: 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 bit too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Restrict age: These days, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it’s probably a smart move to limit the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t occur as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to crank up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. That’s easy to understand. But your hearing needs a little time to recuperate. So think about giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones every now and again. The strategy is to give your ears some time with lower volumes each day. By the same token, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from damaging your ears.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at as outlined by the World Health organization (60dB is the normal level of a conversation for context). Most mobile devices, unfortunately, don’t have a dB volume meter built in. Try to make certain that your volume is lower than half or look up the output of your particular headphones.
You may want to consider decreasing your headphone use altogether if you are at all worried about your health.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
You only have one set of ears so you shouldn’t ignore the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on numerous other health factors, including your overall mental health. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the chances of problems like depression and dementia.
So your hearing health is linked inextricably to your all-around well-being. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone might become a health risk. So the volume down a little and do yourself a favor.