How Can I Use Headphones Without Damaging My Ears? 5 Tips For Healthy Ears!

If you are someone who’s constantly using headphones all day, please take some time to read this for your own sake.

In an online learning environment, you will find both teachers and students spending a lot of their time immersed in their classes using headphones. And obviously, after classes, we still have our headphones on to listen to music, watch movies, or just when we want to drown out the world and be alone by ourselves just for a moment. 

How To Protect Your Ears While Using Headphones

But have you ever wondered what are the effects of constant use of headphones? You might not think of its importance now but your future self will thank you if you start taking precautions now. 

It’s about time to start asking yourself the question, “How can I use headphones without damaging my ears?”. 

Is your hearing at risk?

Did you know that one in four adults aged 20-69 show signs that they are affected by noise-induced hearing loss? This is according to the National Institute of Health which is very alarming especially in today’s digital age where headphones are literally everywhere. 

Headphones have become a necessary part of our daily lives, we use them for both work and leisure purposes because of the convenience it provides. It keeps your hands free and lets you enjoy or listen to any type of audio uninterrupted. 

But if you are to do the math, our ears are most of the time exposed to loud sounds and music whenever our earphones or headphones are on. And so, it’s best to know what are the effects of such exposure and how can we safely use the said device?

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***Care to take a quick hearing test? Please check out the video below before we head on to our topic for today which is quite important and should not be taken for granted. 

Noise-Induced Hearing loss symptoms include:

  • Unable or struggling to hear higher-pitched tones 
  • You seem to be challenged to understand what people are saying and feel like they are mumbling more
  • Both of your ears are having the same degree of hearing loss
  • It’s getting harder for you to understand words that start with s, f, h, and th. 
  • You’re unable to hear birds chirping anymore
  • Random ringing in your ears
  • Hypersensitivity to certain sounds that seems to be causing you an undistinguishable pain. 
  • You’re frequently asking others to repeat what they just said or asking them to speak louder and slowly as well. 
  • Needing to turn up the volume on your phone, laptop, or TV just to understand 
  • And a few more depending on the case…

How Can I Use Headphones Without Damaging My Ears? 5 Tips For Healthy Ears!

#1. Please turn that volume down

A little boy enjoying music on his headphones

I know it’s nice to be able to listen to amazing music while you blast the volume up or when you just really want to be in tune with that podcast or audiobook that you’re listening to, but please turn the volume down.

Using headphones in high volumes can cause irreversible damage to your ears if you are not careful when using them, but the good news is avoiding noise-induced hearing loss is not that hard and is pretty easy to do. 

It starts with the habits that you do while you’re using headphones. The first and best step is not to listen to music or any audio at a high volume especially when using headphones. 

Like our skin, our ears are incapable of regenerating—inside our inner ears are thousands of microscopic nerve cells called hair cells which are responsible for picking up frequencies giving us the ability to hear.

But as we age, if the hair cells are continuously exposed to loud sounds it can weaken the cells which can eventually be destroyed beyond repair. Listening to anything beyond 80 decibels will surely increase the chance of damage to your hearing capabilities. 

You can try to install decibel meter applications that can help you measure noise levels to know whether you are listening to healthy volume levels. 

And that means once your hearing starts deteriorating there’s not much you can do besides preserving the percentage you have left in your hearing ability as there are some cases where hearing loss is irreversible.

Turning down the volume to a level that you can still clearly hear what you want to listen to is the simplest yet biggest change you can make to keep yourself and your hearing safe. 

#2. Unplug and limit your exposure 

taking breaks when listening on headphones helps

I think we can all agree that headphones are one of the greatest tech gadgets ever invented in today’s time. They’re just that awesome, you can get lost for hours in your own world while listening to your jam or while binge-watching your favorite movies or series—handsfree as well!

But it is also a fact that too much of something can be bad for you especially for your health. Listening to music or videos while using your headphones at high volumes for long periods of time can take a toll on your health specifically on your hearing capabilities.

This is why it’s best if you can follow the 60-60 rule wherein when you use your headphones to listen to music or watch movies you will only listen at 60% of the max volume and for only 60 minutes and no longer than that.

By doing this, you will be preventing your ears from high volume exposure and preserve your ear’s hair cells as I have mentioned earlier.

Always remember that moderation is key. You can easily keep noise-induced hearing loss problems at bay by making sure that you limit your exposure and give your ears some breathing and silent time whenever you can. 

But if you really need to keep your headphones on for a longer period of time, try to keep the volume down at an adequate level where you can still hear everything loud and clear. And it’s also best if you can take a break every hour for 5 minutes or so—the longer the break the better.

Additionally, it’s also best to know that using headphones for long hours can increase your chances for ear infections. Since your ears are being enclosed for long periods of time this promotes the growth of bacteria which is a big no-no for your ear health. 

#3. Noise-canceling headphones are your friend

noise cancelling headphones to reduce background noise

When using headphones especially when you’re in a location where external noise is persistent for example when you’re out in public you will surely try to overcome the background noises around you by turning the volume higher than recommended which is not good for your ear health at all. 

And to avoid this from happening, this is where noise-canceling headphones come in. 

Instead of trying to boost the volume it a higher level in order for you to hear what you need to listen to the great thing about this kind of headphones is that they help block any persistent external noises to let you listen to music or videos at acceptable levels uninterrupted. 

This will then help you stay focused and let you hear what you need to listen to while taking care of your hearing and keeping noise-induced hearing loss far from happening. 

And another great thing about noise-canceling headphones is that they can also reduce the background noises that are being heard by other people when you’re talking into the microphone of your headphone. 

A particularly useful feature that will surely benefit students especially if you’re currently teaching in an area where other background noises cannot be prevented. They’ll be able to hear you loud and clear and vice versa you will also be able to hear them crystal clear as well. 

#4. Over-ear Headphones > On-ear headphones

Over-Ear headphones provides the best comfort

You might get confused about this one because I was also confused about the difference between the two when I was trying to buy headphones to use while I work a couple of months ago. 

There are two types of earphones that you can choose from—the On-ear and the Over-ear headphones. Each of them has their own pros and cons but I’ll explain why I prefer Over-ear headphones more and why they’re much better for your ear health. 

The On-ear headphone type completely rests on your ears and weighs a lot less compared to an Over-ear headphone making them easier to carry along with you but the only drawback is since they rest on your ears they will hurt a lot quicker compared to using Over-ear headphones. 

Additionally, they can only filter external noises at a limited extent since there will be gaps when background noises can still seep through. But they’re more compact and portable making it easy for you to store them on your bag or jacket when you’re on the go.

For Over-ear headphones, the headphone cups will fall around your ears entirely covering them making them more ideal if you’re targeting to extinguish background noises completely. You’ll hear fewer ambient noises from little to none actually. 

In terms of comfortability, Over-ear headphones also triumph over On-ear ones as the cups will only pressing around your ears and not on them exactly. They also have thicker headbands. 

Over-ear headphones are also Audiologist recommended since it increases the distance between the speakers to your eardrums which helps in lowering the stakes of noise-induced hearing loss while using headphones. 

#5. Get your hearing tested regularly

Regular check ups prevents permanent hear loss

This might seem unessential but getting your hearing tested is more important than you might think, especially if you have been experiencing symptoms of hearing loss or you’re worried about it. 

Regular checkups can help identify early hearing loss. As cliche as this might sound but it is a proven fact that prevention is better than cure, the earlier it is detected the earlier something can be done about it to preserve your hearing better. 

It’s also best if you can get a yearly hearing test especially if you teach music or you’re exposed to noisy environments. 

To sum it all up…

All in all, you have to listen responsibly. Tinnitus is no joke, Ear infections are no joke, and Hearing loss is really something you need to be serious about. We need to be thankful for our hearing capabilities and be mindful and not take it for granted because once we lose it, we can’t have it back. 

I’m not saying that headphones are bad and you should stop using them you just have to be smart about using them and be sensible when you use them both for work and leisure purposes. 

Protect your ears! Remember you only have two of them in your lifetime. 

Until our next one! Toodles! 

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