Earphones and Headphones….are harmful?

In our lives, we use earphones/headphones at many occasion.For ex. An virtual meeting, music, while talking to someone etc. But do we know the detrimental effects of this careless habit. Not really…. But awareness can make one more alert and watchful .So let’s  understand, what makes the earphones so harmful!

  • How is it harmful ?

If you visualise, just think about an object, which is rarely cleaned or disinfected. What is likely to happen? Well, obviously it will start to grow microbe if it is in contact with what the microbe needs to breed. Now, we don’t know if the microbe growing is a pathogen or not. There may be a chance that they are harmless but the possibility is so less, that it can be counted as non-existent. Similarly, earphones/headphones are in contact with our body for most of the time. If it is in contact with our body, surely micro organisms are prone to grow. Eventually leading to uncomfortable problems like rashes, ear pains etc. Micro organisms are no creatures to play with. What makes it even more harmful is, we don’t even know what type of microbe it is. We can’t even assume because there are so many pathogens that could be residing  in your ear itself. And we have a really bad habit of sharing earphones. Even if it’s your loved ones,diseases do not see that. By sharing earphones, You’re practically transmitting the disease yourself and that would not be good.

Photo by Burst

Earphones/headphones, if used for long durations of time may result in induced or permanent hearing loss. Now the problem is, the  microphone has a direct contact to your ear. Your ear is a very sensitive part of your body and it’s a vital organ. It consists of 3 parts, namely – 1. The outer ear 2. The middle ear 3. The inner ear.  You might have noticed  some hairs in your ears. It is called the cochlea.  It is present in the part of the inner ear. Now, cochlea is a very important structure. Basically, the cochlea sends  signals from the outside environment to the brain  by vibrating, due to which we hear and make sense of what we hear. Sort of connects the outer world to our brain in the medium of sound. Prolonged duration of using earphones (when I am writing only earphones, do note to add headphones as well!) makes the cochlea to vibrate exorbitantly and the cochlea can seriously lose the sensitivity to vibrations. Unlike other parts of your body, your ear doesn’t have the ability to regenerate itself. Which makes curing it even harder.  Listening, with high volume makes the condition worse. Your ears don’t have a choice but to respond to that noise, even if it makes the cochlea die and never recover. This is why one often experiences ear pains after prolonged periods of using earphones.

 Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

  • What is More harmful?

Alright, the usage of earphones and headphones is harmful. But which is more harmful?… earphones are. In the case of headphones, you still have some space between your device and your ear,but in earphones or an earpiece,which makes a direct contact by being plugged inside your ears,has a greater Impact. Probably intensifies the sound by 6 to 7 decibels ( a unit through which the intensity of sound is measured). It cannot be said that headphones don’t have any ham, though. As headphones have a greater area, the amount of microbe breeding also, could be greater..

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

  • Result

Okay, it is harmful to use  earphones carelessly. But…what possible problems can even occur by this? Nothing serious……right? According to ColumbiaAsia Hospitals, there is a probability that following problems can happen-

  1. NHL- Noise induced hearing (NHL) is when one experiences a temporary loss of hearing, due to  extended time periods of using earphones.
  2. Tinnitus- When the cochlea(hair cells) is damaged, one can experience some buzzing or ringing noise in their ears. This condition is called Tinnitus.
  3.  Hyperacusis- A condition where one tends to be sensitive to the noise produced by the environment.
  4. Dizziness- Increase of pressure in the ear canal leads to dizziness.

These are a few of them. Ears are counted in one of the sensory organs. With that being said, the ears are extremely sensitive. An ear is not made of bones but  cartilage. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to twist your ears as you please. Cartilage can be described as a gel-like  substance acting like a connective tissue.

Photo by Christina Morillo 

Take a while to remember to clean the outer ears properly and regularly. Ear wax (cerumen) is present in your skin to moisturize the dry skin. So not try to deliberately remove it, especially using a  cotton swab. It only makes the earwax to go nearer towards the inner ear.

Avoid extended periods of using earphones/headphones. One can use the trick to not use the volume beyond 60 decibels. And let the time period to use an earphone be 60 minutes. Prefer using the speaker rather than microphone(let the others be annoyed😉). And regularly sanitize or disinfect the earphones and headphones. Yes, it will be a pain. But it ‘ll  be worth it!

And do not worry. There is always a cure if the right moderation a are used. If you experience any of the above symptoms for a constant period of time. Immediate consultancy to the doctor is advisable.





Categories: Health, Science

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