Is there a device that reflects the modern human condition better than headphones? Today’s wireless headphones, AirPods, and earbuds let you to connect to a global community of sounds while at the same time giving you the ability to separate yourself from everybody you see. You can keep up on the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music wherever you are. They’re great. But the way we normally use them can also be a health risk.
This is specifically true regarding your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. Headphones are everywhere so this is very troubling.
The Danger of Headphones And Earbuds
Frances enjoys 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 enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at max volume). She’s a respectful person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.
This type of headphone usage is pretty common. Certainly, there are lots of other purposes and places you might use them, but the basic function is the same.
We use headphones because we want the listening experience to be somewhat private (so we are able to listen to anything we want) and also so we’re not bothering the people around us (usually). But this is where it can become dangerous: our ears are subjected to an intense and extended amount of noise. Hearing loss can be the result of the injury caused by this extended exposure. And a wide assortment of other health issues have been associated with hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
Hearing health, according to healthcare experts, is a critical part of your complete health. And that’s the reason why headphones present somewhat of a health risk, especially since they tend to be omnipresent (headphones are really easy to get a hold of).
So here is the question, then, what can you do about it? Researchers have offered a few tangible steps we can all use to help make headphones a little safer:
- Age restrictions: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it might be wiser if we reduce that a little, limiting the amount of time younger children spend using headphones. The longer we can avoid the damage, the more time you’ll have before hearing loss sets in.
- Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really enjoy, it’s hard not to pump it up. That’s easy to understand. But your hearing needs a little time to recuperate. So think about giving yourself a five-minute break from your headphones here and there. The idea is, each day give your ears some low volume time. Decreasing your headphone time and watching volume levels will undoubtedly decrease damage.
- Don’t turn them up so loud: 85dB is the maximum volume that you should listen to your headphones at according to the World Health organization (60dB is the typical level of a conversation for context). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t measure their output in decibels. Try to be certain that your volume is less than half or look up the output of your specific headphones.
- Volume warnings are important: Most mobile devices have warnings when the volume gets to be dangerous. So if you use one to listen to music, you need to pay attention to these warnings.
If you’re at all concerned about your ear health, you might want to curtail the amount of time you spend on your headphones entirely.
It’s Just My Hearing, Right?
You only have one pair of ears so you shouldn’t dismiss the impact of hearing damage. But your hearing can have a big impact on several other health factors, including your overall mental health. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increases in the risk for issues like depression and dementia.
So your hearing health is connected inextricably to your all-around wellness. And that means your headphones might 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.