Dr Santosh S REVEALS the harmful effects of wearing headphones

Wearing headphones for long can damage your ears. Dr Santhosh S, Consultant ENT, Columbia Asia Hospital, has answered all the queries related to the danger.
Dr Santosh S REVEALS the harmful effects of wearing headphonesDr Santosh S REVEALS the harmful effects of wearing headphones
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Headphones are convenient. They help us combat the tyranny of an open office or working from home. You must think that they are great for relaxing, working out – basically to cancel the sound around you and enjoy some “me” time. But they can lead to some serious health problems. As much as they help us cancel the noise around us, we can’t turn a blind eye to how dangerous they can be. According to WHO, prolonged usage of headphones poses a threat to around 1.1 billion people. 

The repeated exposure to loud noises can cause hearing loss. Loud noises, in general, are damaging to the ears. From temporary to permanent damage, using earphones for long can have harmful side effects. We asked Dr Santhosh S, Consultant ENT, Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, about the harmful effects of wearing headphones.

Here is what he has to say. 

How do earphones damage the ears? 

When sound is transmitted in normal hearing, it converges on to the ear canal and then goes into the drum through the nerve for the perception of sound. When you have earphones on, the sound is concentrated directly on the eardrum and gets bombarded on it. The vibration of the drum moments triggers a weakness, as a result of which the hearing bones vibrate more and create more repel of waves and that’s when the ear starts to get affected. 

How long should one wear headphones? 

Prolonged usage of earphones should be avoided. More than 30 minutes is considered a long time. The longer you listen through the earphones, the higher your chance of damage. Over the ear is better than ear phones as the latter will cause more damage.

Use headphones on one ear for the first 30 minutes and move on to the other ear. This will give one ear some rest and allow the nerves to recuperate. While wearing over the ear headphones, keep the cuff on one side while keeping the other one open. 

What happens if we use earphones for more than 30 minutes? 

After half-an-hour, the constant sound being bombarded on the ears makes the nerve cells weak. Your perception of sound can get altered and you might start to miss out on words. Ensure that you’re changing the ear every half-an-hour or taking a break to avoid neural fatigue.

What are the potential health problems of prolonged usage of earphones? 

Prolonged usage can lead to the widening of the ear canal. It can also interfere with the cleaning mechanism. This can further cause issues and other infections. Some of the other health problems you might experience include the following: 

Headache: Wearing headphones for long periods of time on a regular basis can induce headaches. 

Hearing Loss: Over time the loud noises from the headphones cause the hair cells in the cochlea (part of the inner ear) to bend down. The damage can be permanent in case they don’t get time to recover.  

Tinnitus: Long-term exposure to loud noise may cause permanent damage. Symptoms of which include ringing, buzzing, hissing or whistling in the ear. 

Dizziness: Earphones can cause a disturbance in the ear which can lead to vertigo.  

Is there a direct impact of wearing headphones on the brain? 

There are no direct effects of wearing headphones on the brain. However, the continuous usage of the phone can have some indirect effects including mood swings and irritability. 

Wearing Bluetooth headphones is safer than having the phone directly to the ear as cell phones produce radio waves which can be more harmful to the brain. 

How can the danger be avoided? 

Avoid prolonged usage.

Take breaks in between.

Listen on low volume to alleviate the risk of damaging the nerves. 

Avoid excess treble and bass while listening to music.

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