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Listening to music on the go has become an exciting innovation in music technology. Anywhere you go you probably witness people with earbuds or larger headphones creating the soundtrack to their lives. Although headphones bring music into our lives as we travel through the day, they also come with some risks. Some headphones can contribute to hearing loss through loud volumes and prolonged exposure to noise. One of the greatest risks of headphones is the ability to add loud music to an already loud environment. Despite the risks that come with constant and loud use headphones, some are better than others at helping to prevent hearing loss. A few considerations can help you select a pair that will do the least harm while still enabling you to enjoy music anywhere you go.
Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the Safest
One of the risks of headphone use is that they can allow noisy environments into our ears while we add the volume of music, as well. The total decibel load to the ears can be enormous, depending on the listening context. The safest type of headphones is noise cancelling. These headphones mute the sound of the world, while allowing you to hear music at a much softer volume. You may have experienced the following scenario. You are wearing headphones, whether earbuds or the larger over-the-ear style as you go about your day. When you return to your device at the same volume in an otherwise quiet environment, you are shocked with how loudly you had been listening to your music before. Noise-cancelling headphones are a good solution to this problem, allowing you to keep the total volume entering your ears at a safe level. Though these headphones can be more expensive, the investment in your future hearing is far worth the cost. These headphones come in both the over-the-ear style as well as smaller portable earbuds.
Extended Use is a Risk
Not only is the volume level important to ear safety, but also the length of time should be kept to a reasonable time. Listening to loud music for an extended period of time can do damage to the sensitive anatomy of the ear. One helpful practice is to periodically take off your headphones and listen to the surrounding environment. Take note of the difference between the world and your music. If you take just a few moments away from your headphones, you may feel like turning down the volume. These ear breaks can help you hear a broader spectrum of frequencies when you return to listening, as well. Some headphones even have safeguards to help you track how long and loud you have been listening, with automatic shutoff when you’ve reached your limit.
Use Both Headphones at Once
Funny enough, two ears are better than one when it comes to headphones. Using both of our ears at once helps us monitor the loudness of sounds and come to the right volume level. If you are using only one earbud, it is possible to have the volume very loud without even noticing. Wearing both headphones at a quieter level is a better strategy than wearing only one and hoping to incorporate the sounds around you into your hearing.
Bluetooth Compatibility with Hearing Aids
Not only do headphones come in earbud and over-the-ear styles, but Bluetooth technology has also been incorporated into new headphone technology. One of the benefits of this style of headphone is the ability to switch between hearing aids and headphones. Knowing the right listening context will help you avoid noisy environments that will compete for hearing with your music. By coordinating these elements, you can move easily between headphones for music and hearing aids for listening to the world around you.
The most important rule of thumb when it comes to headphone quality and safety is to only use noise-cancelling headphones in very loud environments. Basic earbuds on a loud train or in a construction zone can do irreversible damage to your hearing, and it is best to wait until you are in a quieter place to resume music listening. If you are aware of these simple tips, there is no reason you can’t enjoy music through headphones while preserving your healthy hearing for many more years of music enjoyment.