Nothing beats listening to your favorite band in your headphones while going about your day. It makes listening to music a lot more personal and immersive than using a speaker. You can listen to your music at any time or place, but at what cost if you are potentially damaging your ears? According to World Health Organization, around “1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars, and sporting events”. Hence, ear damage is a tangible problem that almost everyone at this age is at the risk of having. Here are a few tips to consider to minimize the damage and have a safe and enjoyable musical experience.
1. Skip the In-Ear Design
In-Ear and earbuds are popular because they are the most portable, thus perfect for use while doing everyday activities. However, they can do your ears some serious damage.
First, these designs send the sound directly into your ear canal, which could damage your inner ear, causing permanent hearing loss. This is because damage to the inner ear cannot be cured, with all the technology we have. Although other designs, like over-the-ear or on-ear, can still damage the ear, they can’t hold a candle to earbuds and in-ears in hurting the eardrums.
Second, according to Whittier Hospital Medical Center, earbuds carry and introduce dirt, germs, and bacteria into your ears. The only way to prevent this is to sanitize them after every single use, which most people don’t. A lot of people also share their earbuds and in-ears together, which is unsanitary. Furthermore, earbuds increase ear wax build-up, as the ear is not meant to be clogged up for so long. These factors lead to painful ear infections that nobody has to deal with.
2. Tone It Down
Music is the best form of escapism, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it at full volume to enjoy it. Sound intensity is measured in decibels (dB). The intensity of a normal conversation is around 60 dB. A vacuum cleaner’s noise is around 75 dB. A Chainsaw or a leaf blower cause around 106 to 115 dB. According to My Health Alberta, any sound above 85 is harmful. If you cannot measure your music in decibels, don’t ignore the obvious warning signs that the sound is too high. Does your ear hurt? Do you have to lower the volume to hear someone when they’re talking to you? Do you find your ears ringing after the music stops? All these are tell-tale signs that you should significantly lower the volume, even check with a healthcare professional before it is too late. To stay safe, try listening to your music at around 60% of the device volume. If you still feel uncomfortable, lower it even more.
3. Keep It Short
Do you really have to wear your headphones all day? Even if you are a musician who wears headphones as a part of the job, you need to control the duration. Make the longest period you wear headphones without a break 60 minutes, then take a break of at least 5 minutes. Prolonged use of headphones is a well-known factor in hearing damage, so be responsible.
4. Splurge a Bit
Maybe the reason why you find yourself resorting to raising the volume too high is not that the volume is low, but that the headphones are low quality. Most people tend to buy cheaper headphones as if they’re a catch, but actually, they’re more harmful to one’s ears. This is because they are unable to transmit the bass efficiently or block background noise. Hence, most low-cost headphones users tend to raise the volume to hear more detail in the music.
Don’t be scared to invest a little bit in your headphones. Make sure you get over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones for a better and safer listening experience.
Nobody is here to tell you not to listen to your music or not to use headphones ever. Just be mindful of how the misuse of headphones can be harmful and how to use them correctly. Stay safe and inspired.