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How to use Headphones Safely

28 December, 2020


It is not uncommon for the younger generation to walk around with their earphones. This could be jogging to listen to music while travelling, chatting with friends, or even watching their favourite shows and sport. They are quite comfortable with it and prefer this to the other modes of listening. Some use headphones while at home, instead of the earphones. There is a mild difference in the usage of both.

Based on research, ENT specialists are suggesting that earphones can lead to a hearing condition called tinnitus. Untreated, this can even lead to permanent damage to the ear and may result in hearing loss. The earphones' sound directly goes into the ear, and hence the chances of damage are more. This has mostly been observed in the younger population. Besides, there have also been occasions when people talking on the phone with earphone meeting with accidents as they cross the road, etc. So, overall, it is clear that earphones usage is not a good option, safety-wise. 

Why headphones?

While headphones too are liable to cause the same amount of danger, it is better than earphones. Also, the ear's damage depends mainly on the quality of the device, the nature of the usage and so on. The damage to the ear is more likely if you listen to music with high volume, and for longer periods of time constantly.

But, there could be a genuine need for people to use headphones, especially when the whole family is working/learning from home. In small homes with a space crunch, more than one person may have to work out of the same space. A grandchild may have to attend online classes in the living room, while you may need to watch a serial or a sport. It is best to use headphones in such circumstances.

Also, headphones are best when you get into calls so as not to disturb people around you. Headphones can fit over the head, and the sound can be adjusted to a comfortable volume not to cause damage to the ear. Also, many lightweight headphones sit comfortably and do not cause any discomfiture. 

How to choose the right headphone?

Especially for seniors, the main considerations to choose a headphone are as below.

1. They should be lightweight.

2. Noise cancellation should be enabled.

3. Use loose-fitting ones rather than snugly fitting headphones to ensure lower sound pressure on the ear.

4. Choose a good quality branded one rather than an unknown one which may be inexpensive, but may end up causing damage to the ears.

The over-the-ear headphones are usually slightly bulky, while the on-ear headphones are similar to the earphones and exert more pressure on the ear. The in-ear varieties are very comfy and compact and provide an awesome experience. Though some premium varieties are there with some extra features, this would also have to be plugged into the ear.

The closed-back headphones combined with noise cancellation, help you create a world of your own, totally cutting you away from the world; even the person sitting next to you. The open-back headphones create a better and spacious audio effect; but, the sound escapes from the headphones to the people next to you. Depending on the possibilities supported by your device, you could also opt for wired or wireless headphones. 


If headphones are not being used constantly for hours altogether, and with low volume, they are quite ok to use. However, if you already suffer from any hearing conditions or any other specific serious medical conditions, kindly check with your doctor. Occasional use of the right headphones in the right way is not a cause of concern. Good quality ones, especially the ones with noise cancellation, are best for use at home. This could help you and others at home follow individual schedules without getting in each other’s way. 

 A suggestion from the WHO says that it is ok to listen to one hour of music at 60% volume for an hour per day, and not more. It is advised to keep the volume under 80 dB for safety purposes always, and you may occasionally use it for a longer period with lesser dB. 


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