Headphones are all the craze nowadays. People use them for many reasons, whether it be for better sound quality or just for a little privacy. They are a key part of any essential item checklist, but is it bad to wear over the ear headphones?
For everyday use, headphones help with concentration and allow you to go hands-free. For college students and office workers, a distraction-free environment is very rare. Headphones help to create your own space with fewer distractions. When it comes to recording video content, podcasts, streams, etc. headphones are perfect for audio editing.
Aside from all the positives, headphones have a handful of negatives, as well. For starters, headphones can cause acne if worn too often. More importantly, headphones can cause life-long hearing damage. Multiple studies have shown that permanent hearing loss can result from listening with headphones at loud volumes for too long.
Hearing Loss Caused by Over the Ear Headphones
One in five teenagers will experience slight hearing loss, according to The American Osteopathic Association. Even though the youth uses headphones the most, they are not the only demographic that is affected. One in four U.S. adults, 20-69 years old, show signs of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) according to the National Institute of Health.
When you think about how headphones can damage your hearing, also take the time to think about how chainsaws and fully-throttled motorcycles can reach 100 decibels (intensity of a sound). This can damage hearing in 30 minutes. According to Swedish researchers in 2017 publishing in the Noise Health journal, studies have indicated that increased listening frequency and longer lifetime exposure were linked to poor hearing thresholds.
According to the World Health Organization, people should only use personal audio devices for less than an hour a day. You want to follow the 60/60 rule. Do not listen for longer than 60 minutes and not any louder than 60% max volume.
Headphones vs. Earbuds
Hearing damage is caused more by earbuds than headphones, Dr. Maria Wynens of Atlanta Hearing Doctor states. They are just tiny speakers that you stick inside your ears and playing loud audio that far inside your ear can cause permanent hearing loss. Headphones, on the other hand, sit around and outside the ear, so there is not as much amplification. Since headphones are used more often for noise canceling, audio can be played at lower volumes. While with earbuds, sounds are only slightly reduced, so in turn, we turn the volume up.
Also according to Dr. Wynens, cheap earbuds can be found just about anywhere. Their poor-quality sound plays at uneven volumes, which can damage your hearing even more. In this case, purchasing the right type of headphones is a big part of keeping your body safe.
Headphones and Cosmetic Issues
Although it may seem like earbuds are worse than headphones, headphones can still cause issues that earbuds don’t. Teen Vogue talked to Dermatologist Dr. Debra Luftman, where she was able to explain how headphones cause acne. She stated that as you wear headphones for extended periods, especially while and after workouts, sweat can collect around and on the headphones. The skin is being compressed which brings on bacteria and yeast to multiply.
Another issue most people would never think about is allergic reactions. Certain rubber and plastic materials used in headphones can cause dermatitis, according to Dr. Jonathan Silverberg from Northwestern University in Chicago.
How to Lessen the Negative Effects of Headphones
If you wear headphones for more than one hour a day, there are some steps you can take to prevent symptoms. First, always make sure you are using new and good-quality headphones, preferably noise-canceling. Make sure to take breaks, lower the volume, and clean them with makeup remover and antibacterial wipes.
Second, never share your headphones with others. Sharing headphones can spread infection-causing bacteria. The ear canal’s temperature can increase from earplugs and headphones, which can cause harmful bacterias to grow and skin abrasion. Lastly, if you occasionally wear headphones while in public, consider turning down the volume or pausing your audio. Someone could be yelling at you to move and if you do not hear them, this could result in an accident.
Listen to your body and if you start to show signs of hearing loss, contact your doctor. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of noise-induced hearing loss can include ringing in the ears, difficulty hearing high-pitched noises, the need to turn the volume up on radios and televisions, etc. Be aware of how you are listening. You have lots of listening to do in the future.