Is there a gadget that reflects the current human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds allow you to connect to a global community of sounds while simultaneously giving you the ability to isolate yourself from everyone around you. They let you watch Netflix or listen to music or stay in tune to the news from everywhere. It’s pretty amazing! But headphones may also be a health hazard.
This is specifically true with regards to your hearing health. And the World Health Organization agrees. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances enjoys Lizzo. And so she listens to Lizzo a lot. Because Frances loves Lizzo so much, she also turns the volume way up (most people love to listen to their favorite music at full power). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to enjoy her tunes.
This is a fairly normal use of headphones. Certainly, there are plenty of other reasons and places you might use them, but the fundamental 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 become dangerous: we’re subjecting our ears to a considerable amount of noise in a prolonged and intense way. Hearing loss can be the consequence of the harm caused by this prolonged exposure. And hearing loss has been linked to a wide variety of other health-related problems.
Keep Your Hearing Safe
Healthcare experts consider hearing health to be a key element of your general wellness. Headphones are easy to get a hold of and that’s one reason why they present a health hazard.
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? In order to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have offered several steps to take:
- Turn the volume down: The World Health Organization suggests that your headphones not go beyond a volume of 85dB (60dB is the typical volume of a conversation to put it in context). Sadly, 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.
- Take breaks: It’s tough not to pump up the volume when you’re listening to your favorite music. Most people can relate to that. But your hearing needs a bit of time to recover. So think about giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones now and then. The strategy is to give your ears some time with lower volumes every day. Reducing your headphone time and watching volume levels will definitely lessen injury.
- Age restrictions: Headphones are being worn by younger and younger people nowadays. And it may be smarter if we cut back on that a bit, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. Hearing loss won’t set in as soon if you can stop some damage when you’re younger.
- 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 begin cranking up the volume a little too much. It’s incredibly important for your ear health to comply with these warnings as much as you can.
You may want to consider decreasing your headphone use entirely if you are at all concerned about your health.
It’s Only My Hearing, Right?
You only have one set of ears so you shouldn’t disregard the impact of hearing damage. But several other health factors, including your mental health, can be influenced by hearing issues. Neglected hearing loss has been linked to increases in the chances of issues like dementia and depression.
So your overall wellness is forever linked to the health of your hearing. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone may become a health hazard. So do yourself a favor and down the volume, just a little bit.