There is no doubt headphones are very convenient. You can use them while relaxing, working up a sweat, or when you want to listen to something privately.

Can the usage of headphones or earbuds be unhealthy?

Yes, there are ways they can be unhealthy, or even dangerous for the user.

Prolonged wearing of headphones can lead to skin irritation. You may see an acne outbreak or rashes surrounding the areas around the ears.

Socially, the usage of headphones cut you off from the rest of the world. A person constantly wearing headphones, will find himself or herself alone.

And a well-known danger factor comes with wearing headphones and walking around. If the volume is turned up high, a person may not be aware of the surroundings. People with headphones have unknowingly walked straight into the paths of oncoming vehicles.

There are videos on social media showing people using headphones walking straight into lamp posts. They may look funny, but some such people have been badly injured or even died from such injuries.

Here are some adverse effects of using headphones for long periods of time:

Your hearing may suffer

Listening to music for too long and too loudly on headphones or earbuds has been proven to damage one’s hearing.

A simple example of this would be listening while nearby a chainsaw being operated. Chainsaws give out nearly 100 decibels of sound, which can damage hearing in less than half an hour. A person using headphones or earbuds to listen to music at just 70 percent volume is receiving about 85 decibels!

This loss of hearing is called NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss). It is a common but preventable disorder.

Follow the 60 / 60 rule. This means listen to music on headphones at no more than 60 percent of maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at one time.

Ear infections

A golden rule to remember: do not ever share your headphones or earbuds. Sharing of personal items is the easiest way to transfer bacteria and viruses.

Prolonged usage of earbuds and headphones increase the temperature in the ear canal, which may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

Disinfect your headphones or earbuds on a regular basis, even if you don’t share them with others. This will keep your ears clean.

You may develop vertigo

Prolonged usage of headphones and earbuds is linked to vertigo. Vertigo is a sense of feeling off-balanced. It may seem like you are standing in a room that is spinning around, when it is not. It is a condition that happens in the inner ear, so you can see how far in loud sounds can travel and cause damage.

Wireless headphones and earbuds

You expose your body to some radiation when you use wireless headphones or earbuds. Although this is low-frequency radiation, the thought that we may be subjecting our body to some form of radiation is worrisome.

Some safety tips on headphones and earbuds

When used following the 60 / 60 rule, headphones and earbuds are generally considered safe to use.

Here are a few more safety tips you may want to consider:

  • Always buy new headphones or earbuds.
  • Do not turn up the volume to the maximum, no matter how nice the song sounds.
  • Never, ever share your headphones or earbuds.
  • Reduce the sound level while walking or driving to avoid being in an accident.
  • Sanitize your headphones or earbuds on a regular basis.

If you feel you have symptoms of vertigo, stop wearing the headphones or earbuds. Immediately consult an otolaryngologist, also known as an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) specialist.

We hope today’s general article on headphones and earbuds has been an eye-opener for some readers. Please be reminded that no part of the article should be taken as medical advice. Readers should consult their own doctors for medical advice.

By Aaron

19th October 2020 22:30

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