During the lockdown, online meetings, online classes, and video calling friends and family, many of us were continuously wearing headphones for hours. And now when the lockdown is completely over, headphones have become an integral part of daily life. A study published in the journal BMJ Global Health, says over one billion young people are potentially at risk of hearing loss due to their use of headphones and earbuds and attendance at music festivals.
A study indicated that approximately 80% of individuals between 13-18 years of age use headphones for listening to music for 1–3 hours a day. Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common type of sensorineural hearing loss after age-related hearing loss. The cases of patients with hearing issues have seen a surge in the last two years. And this is mainly due to the overuse of headphones. Headphones are causing irreversible damage to the nerves. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss.
Warning signs of hearing loss
- Hearing muffled sounds
- Difficulty in understanding conversations in noisy places
- Difficulty in hearing high-pitch sounds
- Difficulty in hearing speech consonants
- Ringing in ears
- Asking someone to repeat what they said or speak loudly
- Hypersensitivity to certain sounds
Experts and Doctors advise that one should not be using headphones for a long period of time. One should always prefer to avoid headphones, but those who need to use them should take certain precautions.
- Limit the usage time.
- Keep the volume low
- Take breaks after every 45 minutes or one hour for 10-15 minutes.
- Wherever it is required to use headphones for longer hours, maintain the lowest volume possible, and switch to speaker mode whenever possible.
- Try using them one by one on your ears, put them on the right ear and then on the left ear.
People should also consult a doctor if they have any signs of ear infection such as:
- Prolonged earache
- Ear discharge
- Worsened or persistent hearing loss
A person should also lower the volume levels while watching television or on smartphones. One can use ear protection at loud events or environments.