How Headphones Can Harm You After Long Use

2 min


Given the shift to online modes of communication, earphones and headphones have become an inevitable part of everyday life.

Some of us use these earphones or headphones effortlessly for more than 4 hours a day to listen to lectures or music, but little do we realize the potential damage it causes to our ears.

We tend to increase the volume to avoid being disturbed by the background voices in the surroundings. While this may help in the short run, the damage it causes is subtle that we don’t even notice it.

So, if we desire a future that doesn’t involve hearing aids and frequent visits to the audiologist, it’s time to incorporate certain lifestyle changes.

According to the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR), hearing impairment is on the rise in India, and one out of every 12 people is a victim.

How to Use Headphones the Right Way

Certain simple tips can help you protect your precious ears, and keep them safe and healthy in the long run

  • Try using a speaker to attend online classes instead of earphones or headphones.
  • If earphones are unavoidable opt for noise-canceling headphones.
  • Make it a point to adjust the volume to a level where you can hear the music comfortably but not loudly, since loud music can cause tinnitus (a continuous ringing or buzzing sound in the ears) which might be an indication of damage to your ears.
  • Develop the habit of maintaining the volume below 60% and taking five minutes break per hour, it is not advisable to use headphones for more than an hour.
  • A major danger of frequent usage of earphones is that it promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. This could easily be transferred to your ears by borrowing or sharing earphones.
  • Avoid sharing earphones and make it a point to clean your earphones regularly. This will stop the build-up of bacteria, sweat, or shed skin.
  • Avoid inserting your earphones deep into your ears. Cochlea which is the innermost part of your ear is very sensitive to sound waves.
  • Hence using earphones every now and then can cause loss of equilibrium. This leads to dizziness, nausea, and vomiting on prolonged exposure.
  • If your surrounding has constant loud noise use earplugs or noise cancellation devices to limit exposure
  • Use over the head model to avoid direct sound vibrations to the eardrums
  • Certain apps that our mobiles offer are very useful to measure the decibel levels we are exposed to. Try using these apps and always keep a check on your audio levels.
  • The safe or recommended earphone usage ranges between 65 and 80 decibels.
  • Hence, it is fine to use headphones but just be smart and sensible enough not to cause any permanent damage to your precious ears.

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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

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  1. Wonderful article on headphones. Now during covid season i am on headphone for more than 12 hrs and its creating lot of hearing isues.