We live in a society that loves listening to music. Thanks to technology and the many different devices that are available on the market today, music is something we’ve also been able to listen to while on the go for many decades; while at work, at school, at the gym, etc. As a result, we’re spending a lot more time with headphones on our ears…but is this necessarily a good thing?
There are two key factors that Dr. Ali Ghahary says patients should consider when using headphones to listen to music: The volume level of the music and the duration of which you’re listening to the music. By listening to your music too loud or for extended periods of time, family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary as well as audiologists say you could be doing serious damage to your ears; specifically, your hearing, and you may also develop frequent ear aches.
So just how do you know whether or not listening to music is causing your ears any damage? First and foremost, know that when using headphones, the audio is going directly into your ears, therefore making it easier for damage to your hearing to occur. Another example of volume being too loud is if people around you can hear the music you’re listening to – or vice versa. Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends not exceeding volume levels past 60 dBHL (decibels hearing level) to keep your ears protected. 60 dBHL is the approximate volume of a normal conversation. If your volume levels exceed 90 decibels, this can result in hearing complications, and music that exceeds 100 decibels can result in hearing loss, which may or may not be permanent, and all it takes is 10 to 15 minutes for that damage to occur.
Headphones have also been linked to many accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians, and those types of accidents have increased at an alarming rate. As a safety precaution, Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests keeping your headphones off so that you are able to pay attention to what’s happening around you as well as able to hear any sirens, car horns, etcetera.
If you want to listen to headphones, you’re still able to do so. However, it’s important you keep the volume at a low and comfortable listening level. Just as someone with carpal tunnel syndrome would take breaks from typing or writing, those listening to music should also take breaks from their headphones to avoid the risk of causing permanent damage to their ears. It’s also a good idea to choose your headphones carefully when shopping for a pair. Ear buds are quite popular these days, but they sit much closer to the eardrum than a pair of normal, noise-cancelling/over-ear headphones would, and can cause more damage.
While it’s not uncommon to share headphones with friends or family, you could actually develop an ear infection as a result of doing this due to the transfer of bacteria. If you are going to share headphones, make sure you sanitize them prior to use – or simply don’t share them at all.