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How deaf can you go with an earphone?

You won’t want to give an ear to a tale of how earphones evolved over the years except you were there in the days of “Walkman” when earphone users could be counted on a hand which is so unlike now where we have countless people walking around with the tell-tale cords of earphones dangling from their ears and with so many portable devices available, the likes of iPods, iPhones, smartphones, tablets and more, almost everyone, from toddlers to teens and the adults are now using these earphones on a daily basis.

Given the fact that almost everyone is signing up to this habit, it is of great concern that less cognizance is being given to the possibility of your ears being damaged by it. Please note that am not writing this article to scare you, the purpose is to admonish and enlighten you on the kind of risk you may be exposing yourself to by its constant use and how to stay safe from them.

So, if  loud noise is bad for your ears (I bet we all know this, if not, try putting your ears to a loudspeaker and see if it won’t hurt), then imagine the possible outcome of constantly subjecting your ears to prolonged loud noise every day?

When using earbuds, audio is transmitted directly to your ear canal and this close proximity reduces the amount of sound that escapes, thus increasing the loudness. Unfortunately, many people make the common mistake of increasing their earphone volume in an attempt to get better sound, or to block out external noise. If your ears are routinely subjected to loud noise for extended periods of time, they begin to adapt. This adaptation may lead people to further increase the audio of what they are listening to and risk damage to their hearing.

Moreover, experts from the University of Leicester have shown evidence that turning the volume on your headphones up too high can damage the coating of nerve cells, eventually causing temporary deafness. According to the researchers, the noise levels similar to those of jet levels can be heard on earphones or headphones on personal music players if they are turned up loud enough (The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

The UCLA Ergonomics Division also stated that the volume of a user’s headset is the largest factor in whether or not there is a risk of hearing loss and suggested that the volume on the headset be kept low enough that someone sitting next to the user cannot overhear the conversation.

And we can’t ignore the menace of the organisms we can’t see with our naked eyes-Germs. University of Arizona Professor of Microbiology Charles Gerba did research on the various places where germs congregate in the work environment and found phones and headsets to be far more germ infested than more obvious culprits such as toilet seats.

What about the wireless or Bluetooth headsets? Though, Bluetooth radiations are safer than the radiations emitted by cell phones, yet, using a Bluetooth headset exposes the brain, the ears and the eyes to a strong field of microwave radiation which can be linked to blindness, deafness, brain tumors, neck pain or stiffness, skin rashes, headaches and so on.

With all the risks associated with the use of earphones, I’ll advise you to follow the 3 safety tips highlighted below to keep yourself safe.

1. Try to always keep your audio below 85dB and avoid prolonged use. I know many people don’t exactly know how loud 85dB is. Vacuum cleaners, noisy restaurants, and Lagos traffic can be rated right around 85dB and are great examples. Your listening habits are yours to determine. Some people use the 60/60 rule: 60% volume for no more than 60 minutes per day (Good for Bluetooth headphones) but a good rule of thumb is if you think your volume is perfect; turn it down just a bit.

2. Adhere to using a good set of high-quality and well-designed earphones to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Poor quality earbuds often offer little or no sound isolation and what this does is it allows more external noise to interfere with the audio you’re trying to listen to, which causes many people to increase the volume beyond safe levels.

3. Now that you have realized that headsets seem to gather more germs than your toilet seats, it will be safe that they should be cleaned regularly with a disinfecting product to help reduce the buildup of disease-causing germs.

Hope this article is helpful enough? Kindly drop your comments in the comment box below if you have more to add.


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