Headphones are great. They let you listen to music on the bus, while exercising and simply at home relaxing. But did you know that using headphones incorrectly can seriously damage your hearing? Some young people have suffered hearing loss early in life due to improper headphone use, and doctors have warned millennials of the risks of earbuds.
So should you ditch the headphones altogether? Luckily, there's no need for that — you just need to be smart about how you use them. Follow the tips below to keep enjoying music without damaging your hearing.
Know the signs of hearing damage
Being able to recognise the signs of hearing damage is really important. It's a signal that you need to change your listening habits. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms after using headphones, you're listening too loud for too long.
- Struggling to understand certain words when people speak
- Sounds seeming muffled or dull
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
- Ear ache or pain
Long-term hearing loss can cause even more severe symptoms, which include:
- Chronic dizziness
- Severe hearing loss in one or both ears
- Severe ear pain
- Fluid draining from ear
Knowing the serious problems you risk developing helps you to make safer choices when using headphones.
Keep the volume at a safe level
Do you use your headphones to silence annoying chatter on the bus or block out colleagues at work? You should never use headphones to drown out background noise, as you'll be exposing your ears to a dangerous level of sound without being fully aware of it. Choose noise cancelling headphones where possible, as these will block out background sound without you needing to increase the volume.
Try following the 60:60 rule if you listen to music everyday. This means listening to music at 60% of the maximum volume for up to 60 minutes a day and will keep your ears healthy.
Swap earbuds for over the ear headphones
Earbuds are positioned directly in the ear canal, which gives them more chance of damaging your hearing. They produce sound that is louder than traditional headphones, further increasing the risk. Swapping your earbuds for headphones worn over the ear is an easy way to reduce your risk of damage. As well as being further from the ear canal, over ear headphones are more effective at blocking out background noise, meaning you don't need to turn the volume up so high.
If you need new headphones to help you make better listening choices, check out options offered by companies like Tivoli Hi-Fi Pty Ltd.