If we observe the last couple of years, we can see a surge in earphone and headphone usage. Previously headphone use was popular only among youths.
Now the scenario has been changed; headphones have become an integral part of the human lifestyle irrespective of age and gender. That makes the concept of earphone safety the most important thing.
The main hearing problems associated with unsafe headphones and earphones are hearing loss and Tinnitus. Researches are still are going on to study the effects of radiation on humans like cancer.
We highly recommend you to check the headphones decibel at least once in two weeks. This will help you make an idea about the health of your ears and earphones.
Factors Affecting Earphone Safety
The effects of earphones on ears is the most relevant and less discussed topic among headphone users. They only think about this when their ears start aching.
Duration of usage and intensity of sound are the two main factors affecting your ears while listening to music through headphones. Unhealthy and unsafe listening practices can affect your hearing and even make you deaf. Even a premium headphone with the best safety feature won’t help you there.
According to the finding of the latest study conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than one billion youths face serious hearing problems due to unhealthy listening practices. But the real horror is when we understand the culprit of half of the issue is headphones and earphones.
So the basic question is- are headphones safe? The answer is both YES and NO. Here we discuss 5 things every headphone user should understand before using any headphones,
- How are headphones harmful?
- Are headphones safer than earphones?
- Do headphones emit radiation?
- Effects of headphones on women and kids
- How to use earphones safely?
Now let’s discuss everything in detail. This includes how headphones are harmful and some headphone safety tips for a better listening experience.
1. How are Headphones Harmful?
To understand the harmful effects of headphones, first, let us see the science of hearing. The process of hearing is a complex phenomenon.
The inner part of the ear comprises a large number of tiny hair cells. The vibrations of these hairs transfer sound to the brain to fulfill the listening process.
But the sound from headphones that directly fed into the ear canal can affect the sensitivity of these hairs. This causes temporary or permanent hearing loss, depending on the intensity of sound. Permanent damage to hair cells results in irrecoverable hearing loss.
According to experts, always keep the sound below 60 percent of the maximum volume.
2. Are Headphones Safer than Earphones?
Headphones vs Earphones
Even though we use headphones and earphones interchangeably, there are some basic differences between them. Headphones are designed with a much larger earpiece, which covers the entire ear.
They provide some better protection from outside noise by the effective noise cancellation offered by the bigger earpiece.
But in-ear earphones come with a smaller earpiece, which can be inserted into the ear canal. The main disadvantages of them are, the audio will be penetrated straight into the ear canal. So even a slight increase in volume levels can make a huge impact.
Unlike earphones, active and passive noise cancellation of the headphones is more effective. That means headphones are more effective in blocking the external noise mixing with your music.
The answer to the question, earphones or headphones, which are better for ears, is now apparent. Thus headphones can deliver a better experience at a lower volume compared to earphones. This can ensure safety.
3. Do headphones emit radiation?
Yes, headphones and earphones emit radiation. We are all concerned about the safety of Bluetooth headphones because of the radiation.
But compared to wireless or Bluetooth headphones, radiation produced by wired is small, not threatening. It means the wireless earphones are also safe, at least from radiation.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, radiation emitted by Bluetooth devices are non-ionizing in nature and less hazardous. Still, they also accept that further research in this field is required.
Even though the Specific Absorption Ratio (SAR) of wireless headphones is low compared to mobile phones, the danger lies in the proximity to the body and duration of usage. The effects of radiation emitted by wireless headphones on cancer are yet to prove.
4. Effect of Headphones on Women and Kids
But studies show that exposure to a high level of non-ionizing radiation increases the chance of pregnancy loss by approximately three times.
The effects of headphones on kids are much worse and complicated. Children have a tendency to hear their favourite programs like cartoons and songs at a very high volume. Selecting headphones for kids needs extreme care and investigation.
It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that the children are using headphones at safe levels. They can also use appropriate parental controls to ensure this.
5. How to use earphones safely without damaging ears?
This is the most relevant question. We cannot stop headphones usage overnight because they are so helpful in delivering the best listening experience and convenience.
The best method is to develop a healthy listening practice and also choose your earphones wisely. Safe noise-cancelling headphones are available even under 2000, which can deliver the best quality music and protect your ears.
If you want to listen for a long time, keep the volume low because high volume through headphones can create problems within an hour.
The selection of earphones is also important. Always choose the ones with active or passive noise cancellation features.
Their inbuilt technology can negate the outside noises and provide the best audio quality even in the lower volume levels.
Symptoms of hearing Loss
Just like any other organ, ears are also meant for a long-term purpose. So you have to handle them with care; it deserves much more respect. Do not torture them by massive sound.
Our body shows a number of symptoms before serious problems like hearing loss. Here we discuss such indications shown by the body.
- Humming and buzzing sound in the ear. They will be in the minor levels at the beginning and subsequently increases with time
- Increased wax production from ear
- Feels like your ears are partially closed or muffled
- If you cannot hear television programs or songs at a particular volume, previously you could hear.
- If you face problem in understanding talks by others and force them to louden their voice
If you find any of these symptoms, feel free to contact an audiologist. They can give you proper advice and suggestions to keep your ears safe.
Suggestions to use Headphones safely
Here we suggest some recommendations for a safe hearing experience. Some of them are taken from The Harvard Medical School’s suggestions.
- Always keep the volume at a safe level.
- Always select best headphones for ears with active and passive noise cancellation feature to ensure a better listening experience at low volume levels.
- The problem of radiation can be eliminated by using Ferrite Bead.
- Use loudspeaker mode for long calling rather than headphones.
- Over-ear headphones can reduce the impact of sound on eardrums compared to in-ear earphones and TWS earbuds.
- Avoid the use of headphones in a noisy area like public transportation and busy markets. If you want to use it, make sure that the volume is under safe limits.
- Take breaks after extended listening periods.
Headphones are very useful in listening to music in the best way. But we should take extreme care while using them.
In the present world, headphones and earphones are the habit of small kids to older people. So the concept of headphone safety demands great importance than ever before.
Unhealthy listening practices can cause serious hearing troubles. Still, it is not possible to avoid the headphones completely. So the best method is to develop a healthy listening culture.