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Is there a gadget that exemplifies the current human condition better than headphones? These days, headphones and earbuds let you separate yourself from everyone around you while simultaneously enabling you to connect to the entire world of sounds. You can keep up with the news, watch Netflix, or listen to music anywhere you are. They’re wonderful. But the way we generally use them can also be a health risk.

This is particularly true with regards to your hearing health. And this is something that the World Health Organization has also reported. Headphones are everywhere so this is especially troubling.

Some Dangers With Earbuds or Headphones

Frances loves to listen to Lizzo all the time. When she’s really jamming out she usually cranks up the volume (there’s a certain enjoyment in listening to your favorite tune at full volume). She’s a considerate person, though, so Frances uses high-quality headphones to listen to her tunes.

This is a fairly normal use of headphones. Sure, there are plenty of other purposes and places you could use them, but the fundamental purpose is the same.

We use headphones because we want a private listening experience (so we are able to listen to anything we want) and also so we don’t bother the people near us (usually). But that’s where the hazard is: we’re exposing our ears to a significant amount of noise in an extended and intense way. Hearing loss can be the result of the damage caused by this prolonged exposure. And a wide variety of other health problems have been connected to hearing loss.

Protect Your Hearing

Hearing health, according to healthcare specialists, is an integral component of your general health. Headphones are easy to get and that’s one reason why they create a health hazard.

What can you do about it is the real question? In an effort to make headphones a little safer to use, researchers have provided several steps to take:

  • Take breaks: When you’re jamming out to music you really enjoy, it’s hard not to crank it up. Most people can relate to that. But you should take some time to allow your hearing to recover. So consider giving yourself a five-minute rest from your headphones now and then. The strategy is, every day give your ears some low volume time. By the same token, monitoring (and limiting) your headphone-wearing time will help keep moderate volumes from injuring your ears.
  • Turn the volume down: The World Health Organization recommends that your headphones not go over a volume of 85dB (to put it in context, the volume of an average conversation is about 60dB). Sadly, most mobile devices don’t evaluate their output in decibels. Determine the max volume of your headphones or keep the volume at half or less.
  • Restrict age: Nowadays, younger and younger kids are using headphones. And it’s definitely a wise decision to minimize the amount of time younger people are spending with headphones. Hearing loss won’t set in as soon if you can avoid some damage when you’re younger.
  • Volume warnings are important: It’s likely that you listen to your music on your mobile device, and most mobile devices have built-in warnings when you begin pumping up the volume a little too much. So if you use a mobile device to listen to music, you need to heed these warnings.

You may want to consider reducing your headphone usage entirely if you are at all concerned about your health.

I Don’t Actually Need to be Concerned About my Hearing, Right?

When you’re younger, it’s easy to consider damage to your hearing as unimportant (which you should not do, you only have one pair of ears). But numerous other health factors, including your mental health, can be affected by hearing problems. Problems including have been linked to hearing impairment.

So your overall wellness is forever linked to the health of your ears. Whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite music, your headphone could become a health risk. So turn down the volume a little and do yourself a favor.

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