A few days ago I was browsing the internet for the latest headphones with the best audio quality available. The pair were going to be a gift for a very close friend of mine. After a few minutes of research the Sony MDR-1A seemed the perfect pick for what I wanted. Sadly, my friend being an audiophile himself never got to use them because he got diagnosed with an ear infection which was apparently caused by prolonged use of headphones at loud volumes. I was down in dumps .These gadgets leave us all trapped in luxuries and comforts with hidden bad health effects.
Headphones and Earphones are one such technology that are widely used more so by the youth of today with every latest pair causing a frantic stampede to stores to own them. The users are however clueless of the health issues associated with these gadgets listed below…
- Hearing complications and hearing loss
The amount of hearing loss that one will suffer is related both to the volume, measured in decibels (dB) and the duration of time that one is exposed to the sound. Volume exceeding 90 dB can result in hearing complication and even hearing loss. If anyone listens at more than 100 decibels for even 15 minutes, they can face hearing loss.
- Transmission of ear infections
Are your earphones or headphones personal? Do you share them with anyone? Well, we all at times share our earphones and headphones with friends and family. This sharing can easily transmit ear infections. Bacteria from ears of different people can easily be spread through your headphones. So next time you share your earphones or headphones, make sure you sanitize them Or just stop sharing altogether!
- Brain damage
The Electromagnetic waves produced by earphones and headphone can cause serious dangers to your brain. However, no strong medical evidence has yet been found to prove it, but people who are daily users of Bluetooth, headphones and earphones have been found more prone to brain related problems.
The inner ear is directly linked to the brain; even a little infection in the inner ear can directly affect the brain and can lead to serious health issues.
- No air passage
These days, earphones and headphones boast of complete noise cancellation which are supposed to give you the perfect audio experience. But with perfect audio experience comes health risks. To get the best audio experience, we need to insert the earphones directly into ear canals which limits air passage. Yes, the music sounds great but with no air passage, you are at higher risk of ear infections.
In most of cases, people who regularly use earphones and headphones experience more ear wax build up which results in tinnitus, ear infections and even problems in hearing.
- Numbness and pain in the ears
Recent studies have shown that people who regularly use earphones or headphones at loud volumes have felt numbness in the ears. They have described it as their hearing ability getting numb for a while and then coming back to normal, others have described it as a strange sound buzzing inside or ears or a sharp pain in a certain point of ear. This numbness of hearing can be dangerous and may over a period of time lead to deafness which is irreversible!
- Life threatening accidents
Not being able to hear external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on can result in very life threatening accidents. An example is when walking on the street not being able to hear a car honk may turn you into a victim of an unfortunate accidents.
So by now i’m sure, I have convinced you that prolonged use of earphones and headphones may bear irreversible consequences to your well being but like me you really you don’t want to let your favourite audio gadget go especially if you’ve spent the better part of your life curating your favorite songs. Is there a way I can hear my favourite jams and still be safe? You Ask… Well according to the England National Health Service, here are some simple tips that could enable you to do just that.
- Use earplugs
Protect your ears with earmuffs/earplugs and get away from the noise as quickly or as often as you can! When listening to live music or you’re at a very loud environment consider having them on. Here’s an article listing a few popular earplugs by rank.
- Turn down the music
If you can’t hear external sounds when you’ve got your headphones on, then it’s too loud. It’s also too loud if the person next to you can hear the music from your headphones. In fact most phone warn you if you try to push the volume past a level that is considered safe. Do not ignore this warning.
- 60:60 rule of thumb
Listen to your music at 60% of the maximum volume.
- Wear headphones
I’m not saying it’s actually healthier using them but if you have to, they are safer compared to earbud style earphones and in-the-ear headphones. Try taking regular breaks from your headphones, to give your ears a rest.
- Be careful when listening to music in a confined space.
Especially in matatus with killer sound systems.
- Have a hearing detox
You need at least 16 hours of rest for your ears to recover after spending around two hours in 100 dB sound, for example after a night at your favourite club.
There are also variety of apps that can help monitor your exposure to loud noise, such as:
SoundMeter+ provides accurate sounds levels and noise exposure readings to help prevent hearing loss.
Play It Down is a free iPhone and iPad app that allows users to assess their hearing ability and noisy environments.
Remember, Blindness cuts us from things but deafness cuts us from people. – Helen Keller