Headphones and earbuds are commonplace accessories in the portable gadgets and immersive audio experiences of today’s society. We can now enjoy music, podcasts, films, and more on the road thanks to these gadgets. However, issues have been brought up regarding the damaging implications they might have on our hearing health. This begs the key question: Are earbuds and headphones actually harmful to our ears?
We will address the impacts of headphones and earbuds on our ears in this discussion while taking into account a number of variables that may affect these effects. Although these devices might offer a pleasant audio experience, it is important to realise how incorrect or excessive use could be harmful to our auditory health.
How Bad Are Earbuds for Your Ears?
The quick response is: not really. Not all safety risks are directly related to earbuds. The issue is how you use them, which is where it all begins.
Your earbuds’ inappropriate use can result in the following safety issues:
loss of hearing
Being partially or fully deaf in one or both ears is a sign of hearing loss. And exposure to loud noise is one of its main causes. Damage to hair cells, which are responsible for transmitting sound from the ears to the brain, is typically the source of this. As a result, the loudness and duration of listening determine the association between earphones and hearing loss.
You could occasionally notice ringing or other noises after taking out your headphones in addition to hearing loss. If this keeps happening over an extended period of time, tinnitus may be the cause.
When a virus or bacteria infects the middle ear, it results in an ear infection. Painful inflammation and fluid buildup in the middle ear are typical symptoms of ear infections.
Earbuds can readily introduce bacteria to the ears when inserted directly into the ear canal if they are not frequently cleansed.
Additionally, earbuds obstruct the airway in the ear, which promotes the growth of microorganisms. Together, these variables increase the chance that germs will spread to the ears’ more delicate areas.
Earbuds can make it easier for bacteria to spread from one person to another when they are shared. This raises the possibility of ear infections that are more severe.
It’s common for poor fit or continuous use of earbuds to cause physical pain in the ears after using them.
You could experience ear ache if your earbuds are too small or are positioned improperly. It’s possible that this pain will even spread to your inner ear and neighbouring parts of your head and jaw.
Since human ears vary in size and shape, most earbuds are designed to accommodate all ears. Furthermore, earbuds are frequently constructed of hard plastic, which might irritate the ears, particularly if there aren’t any cushions. Thus, employing earbuds that are the wrong size puts undue strain on your skin and ear cartilage by pushing this hard plastic against them.
Additionally, the cartilage in your ear isn’t made to support earbuds for an extended period of time; as a result, it starts to pain after a few hours of use.
Feeling off-balance or dizzy is a defining feature of vertigo. Problems with the inner ear, which is in charge of maintaining our sense of balance, are one of its main causes.
The semicircular canals and the vestibule, two important inner ear structures, control our systems for maintaining balance.
Basically, even the smallest head motions are transmitted to our brain by our inner ears. Delays or problems with the signal transfer from our ears to our brains may result from harming them, such as when playing sounds at high volumes for an extended period of time. thereby causing dizziness.
How to Wear Earbuds and Headphones Without Hurting Your Ears
Environmental noise that is too loudly reproduced might harm the ears. But with noise-cancelling headphones, you can lessen or eliminate these distracting ambient noises.
You can choose between passive and active noise cancellation (ANC) for noise reduction.
It may be frightful to consider the negative effects of improper earbud usage. However, if you exercise caution, you may undoubtedly avoid these issues.
Purchasing ANC headphones is highly advised if you are always around noise. Because ANC headphones reduce background noise in addition to allowing you to hear your music over it, you won’t need to increase the level when using them.
Set the volume to no higher than what is considered safe.
Keep the volume on your earbuds at a safe level to prevent ear damage.
For safe listening, experts advise a limit of 85 decibels (dB). It is advised to listen at 60% or less of your device’s maximum volume if you are unable to measure this.
Your device will display notifications when you increase the level that it might be excessively loud. Don’t disregard these alerts; they are your signal that you have over the 85 dB limit.
Some headphones have an unregulated noise level cap of 136dB. However, you may choose volume-limiting headphones if you want to make sure that this won’t happen. Because these headphones often have resistors built into them, even at maximum volume, you won’t go over the safe limit.
Rest your ears.
Simply listening at a sound level is insufficient. In actuality, the World Health Organisation advises listening to music at 85 dB for no more than eight hours a day. Additionally, the allowed amount of time for safe listening reduces if you exceed 85 dB. For example, you should only be exposed to sound at 100 dB for a maximum of 15 minutes each day to protect your ears.
You might wish to put the 60-percent/60-minute guideline into practise to fix this. This informs you of the volume level and daily time limit for earbud use. You should only use your earbuds for 60 minutes a day if they are at 60 percent loudness.
Now, your listening time reduces if you turn up the volume above 60%. Similarly, if you intend to listen for a longer period of time, be sure to reduce the volume to less than 60%.
Keep your headphones to yourself.
Even if you are sharing headphones with someone you know, you may not be entirely aware of how well they keep up their hygiene. Or you can find yourself contaminating their ears!
Your headphones may become stuck with contaminated earwax. The hazards increase when using earbuds because they fit within the ear canal directly. You might spread yeast or other pathogens in addition to bacteria.
Put on your headphones correctly.
Although it seems obvious and basic, many people actually don’t use their headphones correctly on the first try. Given the variety of headphones available, it is understandable that finding the right way to wear each one might be challenging.
For instance, in-ear monitors (IEMs) and earbuds cannot be worn interchangeably. Even though they may initially appear to be similar, earbuds should only be worn in the outer ear. IEMs are put into the ear canal in the interim. You can get ear ache if you switch up how you wear either one.
Although earbuds have the potential to harm our ears, they don’t have to!
You won’t have to worry about hurting your ears if you use your earphones or headphones properly. Now that you are aware of the risks earbuds present, you can enjoy your music without interruption.