Is there a gadget that reflects the present human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a global community of sounds while simultaneously enabling you to isolate yourself from everyone you see. They allow you to watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from anywhere. They’re incredible. But the way we normally use them can also be a health hazard.
This is particularly true with regards to your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also acknowledged. That’s exceedingly troubling because headphones can be found everywhere.
Some Risks With Earbuds or Headphones
Frances enjoys listening 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 tune at full volume). Frances uses high-quality headphones so she won’t bother others with her loud music.
This kind of headphone use is pretty common. Certainly, there are lots of other reasons and places you could use them, but the basic purpose 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 extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the damage caused by this extended exposure. And a wide range of other health concerns have been connected to hearing loss.
Safeguard Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is a crucial element of your general health. And that’s the reason why headphones pose something of a health hazard, particularly since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are rather easy to get a hold of).
What can be done about it is the real question? In order to make headphones a bit safer to use, researchers have provided a few steps to take:
- Take breaks: When you’re listening to music you really like, it’s tough not to crank it up. Most people can relate to that. But you need to take some time to let your hearing to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones here and there. The concept is, every day give your ears some reduced volume time. In the same way, monitoring (and restricting) your headphone-wearing time can help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
- Heed 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 start pumping up the volume a bit too much. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to observe these warnings.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being used by younger and younger people nowadays. And it’s probably a wise move to limit 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.
- Turn the volume down: 85dB is the highest volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (to put it in context, the volume of an average conversation is around 60dB). Unfortunately, most mobile devices don’t evaluate their output in decibels. Determine the max output of your headphones or keep the volume at no more than half.
If you’re at all worried about your ear health, you may want to curtail the amount of time you spend on your headphones altogether.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
When you’re young, it’s not hard to consider damage to your ears as trivial (which you shouldn’t do, you only get one set of ears). But several other health aspects, including your mental health, can be influenced by hearing issues. Untreated hearing loss has been connected to increases in the chances of problems like depression and dementia.
So your overall well-being is forever connected to the health of your hearing. 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 turn the volume down, just a little bit.