How to use headphones safely? Nowadays, most of the population uses headphones to listen to music. These little electronic accessories, especially wireless headphones, have become an extension of our bodies.
Used well, they allow us to enjoy our favorite songs without disturbing others. However, its abuse or misuse can cause permanent damage. They are one of the main causes of noise-induced hearing disorders.
Listen to music at 60 to 85 decibels. You should listen at 60% volume for 60 minutes per day and take a break from your music every 30 minutes. Use noise-canceling headphones because they isolate us from outside noise, so we won’t need an increase in volume to listen to music.
Progressive hearing loss
Sustained exposure to a high volume damages the inner hair cells, those responsible for transmitting an electrical impulse through the auditory nerve, which ascends to the cerebral cortex where it becomes conscious, that is, where we have the sensation of hearing.
Thus, the damage caused by using headphones at an unsafe volume is progressive and early hearing loss and tinnitus or noise in the ears.
In the medium and long term, not only is hearing damage, but it also produces other negative effects such as impaired well-being, insomnia, irritability, stress, and depressive symptoms.
The risk of the youngest
TAs we said, the majority of the population uses them. However, young people face the most significant risk since they spend many more hours connected to their devices and with an alarming volume.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also calculates that 50% of young people between the ages of 12 and 35, that is, more than 1 billion people, are at risk of hearing damage when wearing headphones.
Young people are the most sensitive age group for various reasons. They often attend concerts and entertainment venues with loud music.”
Also, 85% of students use music players, a third exceeds the 80 dB level, and one in four exceeds 85 dB. Exposure above these decibels risks hearing loss if repeated over time.
Above 100 dB, there is a risk of immediate loss. “If we expose ourselves to that level, we shouldn’t do it for more than 15 minutes.
In this sense, the expert points out that, when choosing the ones that do the least damage, it would be advisable to lean towards ones that allow noise cancellation.
Buttons or insert earphones are the most damaging “because their intensity is concentrated in the outer ear canal and closer to the inner ear.
On the other hand, noise-canceling headphones can help prevent the abuse of sound intensity since they isolate us from external noise, and we will not need an increase in volume to compensate.
Read more: How do headphones work
Tips to use headphones safely
According to studies by the University of Wichita, in the United States, listening to music with headphones at more than 110 decibels for more than an hour causes irreversible damage to the inner ear.
One of the best-known effects of this type of practice is tinnitus, perceived by those who suffer from it as persistent beeps.
These beeps lead to the loss of high-pitched sounds and indicate damage to the inner hair cells, which can cause premature aging of the ear.
We recommend you take precautions when using headphones, both for children and young people and for the older population:
- Limiting the volume and exposure time will help us avoid hearing problems.
- The 60/60 rule is recommended: do not use music players for more than 60 minutes and do not exceed 60% of the volume they allow.
- Limit the exposure time to 40 hours per week if the intensity is 80 dB.
- Use devices with alert messages. A good option is to use devices equipped with screens or phones that incorporate voice or written alert messages. These messages must warn the user of the decibels at which he is listening to his favorite song or radio program, for example.
- According to European regulations for music players for personal use, they should have a standard automatic output limit of 85 dB when switched on, the possibility of not exceeding 100 dB of increase and should incorporate warning measures every 20 hours if you opt for this increase.
No more than 60 minutes of listening to a day at a maximum of 60% of the volume. Here are some examples of sound levels produced by various sources in our daily lives:
- Road traffic in the city: 80-85 dB
- Vacuum: 65dB
- Normal conversation: 50-60dB
- Sea waves: 30 dB
- Bird trill: 10 dB
To measure decibels in any situation, there are sound level meters in App format for mobile phones, both iPhone and Android. This way, you will know the level of noise to which you are exposing yourself.
Our hearing becomes addicted
Finally, it should be noted that our hearing can suffer from a kind of ‘addiction’ and tolerance to noise.
That is, it gets used to the sound reception threshold. It is called auditory fatigue and is described as the perception of a transient decrease in hearing after prolonged exposure to intense noise.
It can also permanently reduce hearing capacity if the sound overload lasts long.
“The compensatory mechanism for feeling less hearing is to turn up the volume further, which is even more damaging to the inner ear, cumulatively damaging hair cells and the auditory nerve, and causing hearing loss.