Health Issues Side Effects of using Headphones and Earphones

Matthew Modine By Matthew Modine, 6th Jan 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Public Health

Headphones and earphones are part of the modern world and of our everyday life. Some of us don’t go anywhere without them!

Health Issues

You can use them everywhere: while running, at the gym, if you want to kill some time at the bus or train station, while doing housework/homework, if your speakers are broken, even in your car. But, as every gadget that people use nowadays, there are also drawbacks of using headphones, and I will enlist them below.

Most of the people, like me, who use earphones on daily basis, are not that aware of the downsides. Most of them are greater than I thought. But first things first, what kind of earphones should we choose?I personally prefer noise-cancelling earphones, but some people indicate that the bigger old school style earphones are actually better, because the harm that they cause is less, and because earphones add 9dB to the volume; also music can sometimes be distorted when we add to the volume if the quality of the earphones is not good. The doctors recommend bigger headphones, so that you can enjoy your music at lower volumes, but as long as you don’t pump up the volume too much, you can also use earphones, I believe it’s a matter of choice. Also, to be on the safe side, we should apply the so-called “60/60” rule, meaning that we should listen to our music for an hour and at 60% of the maximum output of our device. If the time exceeds 60 minutes, you should lower the volume proportionally. And if you don’t hear anything around you, you play your music too loud, and you should turn the volume down. And, of course, we should take a short break every now and again, so that our ears can rest. Moderation is everything, please keep that in mind!

But, as I said,downsides are greater than we expect. The first and foremost, the hearing loss due to the noise our ears are exposed. We are surrounded by different noises all the time, it’s a part of life, but we should do what we can to minimize additional impairment of our hearing apparatus. According to the studies conducted, 16% of children (1 out of 5 teens) and 15% of adults in America suffered from some kind of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noises (30% more than in ‘80s and ‘90s).

A noise is considered to be loud if it is above 90dB. For example, a whisper is 30dB, subway train 90dB, gunshot 100 dB and jet plane is 140dB)(most of today’s MP3/iPod/Android devices can produce sounds up to 120 dB).

I will now enlist some loudness/time facts:

At 95 dB, damage will occur after four hours of exposure per day
At 100 dB, damage will occur after two hours of exposure per day
At 105 dB, damage will occur after one hour of exposure per day
At 110 dB, damage will occur after 30 minutes of exposure per day
At 115 dB, damage will occur after 15 minutes of exposure per day
At 120-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately.

There are signs of hearing loss/damage that we should be aware of:

Ringing, roaring, hissing or buzzing in the ear

Difficulty of understanding speech in noisy places or places with poor acoustics

Muffled sounds and a feeling that your ear is plugged

Listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume than in the past.

So, if you listen to the music for 8 hours at output of 90dB, you are about to suffer some kind of hearing loss. And the damage is permanent! Some hearing aids/implants are required to let you hear better, but they just compensate for what you lost. So, you shouldn’t listen to your music too loudly. Also, if you are using noise-cancelling earphones, there is a risk that you will not hear traffic around you and there is a greater chance to have an accident. In 2014 in India, 379 people are killed on Old Delhi railway station because they listened to music while crossing the railway.

Studies from AudioReputation have shown that people who listen to the music via headphones/earphones tend to visit doctors more because of the pain and buzzing in their ears.

And if you consider sharing some of your music with others through earphones, think again! Even though it can be considered as romantic, or you just want to share some of your favorite songs with your friend, don’t. Germs can be easily transferred this way, and you risk suffering from some kind of ear infection. Clean them regularly, at least once a month, and don’t even share them with your own family!

Noise-cancelling earphones block the air flow, and can lead to development of bacteria and ear infections.

Some studies have also shown that electromagnetic impulses from our earphones can affect our brain. There is no solid scientific evidence, but people who are using headphones are more likely to have brain-related problems. Also, while traveling, noise from your surroundings can amplify decibel output, so the noise is actually louder than we think.

While doing some activity that requires concentration, like programming and mathematics, using your headphones is a drawback because music can break your concentration, and can lead you away from your task, but this depends on the person.

To sum up, earphones and headphones are excellent gadgets for personal amusement, but we should keep the drawbacks in mind and take precautions when using them. They can bring us hours of joy and help us entertain ourselves, but we should be aware that if we overuse them or don’t use them in the way we should, we could face the consequences of our actions. Ear infection, pain in our ears and even loss of hearing is what awaits us if we don’t use these gadgets properly. And remember, my friends, if you use your headphones/earphones moderately, nothing bad will happen to you. Keep enjoying in your music!


Headphones, Health, Side Effects

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author avatar Matthew Modine
Hello Wikinut! My name is Matthew Modine from San Francisco.

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