Let us talk about our close companions. They have been there with us through thick and thin. Clearing the air, we are talking about your earphones. Be it taking online classes, traveling, listening to music, working out, or binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix, earphones are vital.
We all love earphones, right. The global earphone sale hit a massive $368 million in the year 2017. Now, with a recent kick by the COVID-19 pandemic, the earphone market is all set to grow to a whopping $8.23 billion in the next 4 years.
However, your dear little companion might be a devil in disguise. Do you ever feel slight ear or neck pain or inconvenience while using earphones? If yes, a question might pop up in your mind about whether earphone usage causes ear or hearing problems. This is a completely valid question to ask.
In this article, we will explore the answer to this question.
Sadly, the answer is yes, that earphone usage does cause ear and hearing problems. However, the kind, nature, and intensity of the problems vary depending on various factors. Factors include your usage time, maintenance, quality, and volume.
Depending upon the factors, earphone usage can cause infections, partial or complete hearing loss, neck, and ear pain, headaches, etc. Moreover, earphone usage can cause several other problems. Let us discuss more.
One of the most common ear problems earphone usage brings is Tinnitus. Tinnitus is the consistent ringing or buzzing sound in the ear. It is very irritating and happens due to constant high volume and prolonged earphone usage. Moreover, tinnitus can be an early symptom of chronic hearing loss. About 90% of tinnitus cases result in hearing loss. In addition, chronic tinnitus can lead to anxiety, headache, and brain fog.
Next up, noise-induced hearing loss can also happen due to unregulated earphone usage. It happens when the inner ear and eardrums constantly face loud noise of up to 85 decibels (dB). The eardrums become weak over time. This also results in severe outer ear pain and neck pains. According to a study, 14% of people suffer from hearing problems due to unregulated earphone usage.
After that, unhygienic and dirty earphone buds can cause ear infections as well. Earbuds can house bacteria, wax, dust, and in some cases, mold as well. In addition, sweat can also accumulate in earbuds. This happens if you do not keep your earbuds clean or share them with other people. According to NCBI, ear infection prevalence is 5.8%.
Some people also go through a phenomenon called the listener’s fatigue. In this case, the eardrums need to work hard to take in the loud noise. This leads to an increased strain overall hearing system.
Lastly, this might surprise you, but earphone usage also causes hair cell damage. When high-intensity vibrations reach the eardrum, they also reach the cochlea. The cochlea fluid contains thousands of hair cells. In this way, high-rate cell damage occurs. There is a 12% chance of ear discharge as well.
We care and precautions we can mitigate the damage caused by earphone usage. Infection prevention is simple. Keep your earbuds thoroughly clean. According to a study, 49% of people do not clean their earbuds. In addition, you must keep the volume under 60 decibels. Next, monitor and regulate your earphones usage.
If you are suffering from any of the above, you must consult an ENT specialist. Take proper care of your ears. Moreover, you must make an informed decision while purchasing earphones. Look for earphone brands with noise-cancellation features or buy headphones. In fact, headphones are much more beneficial than earphones.