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How to Use Headphones without Damaging Your Ears

Simple tips that can save your ears from a lifetime of suffering.

Headphones. They’re great for helping you listen to your favorite tunes and beats without disrupting everyone in your surroundings. But they’re not great for your hearing. In fact, headphones (and earphones) present a hidden danger: within the privacy they afford, an illusion is created that you’re alone in your own little sound-i-verse. This can lead you to crank up the volume to unhealthy levels, whether consciously, to hear over background chatter, or unconsciously, as you find yourself “in the zone.”

That being said, all is not lost. Just like you have the power to raise the volume on your favorite playlist and rock out to your heart’s desire, you also have the power to use headphones safely - i.e. without damaging your ears and causing hearing loss. Here are a few tricks you can try anytime and anywhere.

Wear headphones, not earbuds

Not all listening devices affect your ears in the same way. While the difference in distance between devices worn on the ear, such as headphones, and in the ear - earbuds - is negligible, when it comes to the safety of your ears and hearing, every millimeter counts. Not only are headphones worn over the ear and encase it from the outside, but they are also more effective at keeping outside and background noises at bay. This enables you to listen to whatever it is you’re playing at a lower volume than you’d need if you were wearing earbuds.

It’s also important to note that earbuds pose an additional safety risk. Regular earbuds allow more outside noise to enter your ear, leading you to turn up the volume, especially when in areas where background noise abounds. Isolating earbuds prevent these external sounds from penetrating the barrier formed by the buds. In both cases, wearers are at risk of not hearing safety warnings in their midst, such as cars honking while out on a jog. And since the earbuds are worn inside the ear, drivers may not be aware that they’re not being heard, and could possibly fail to take necessary precautions accordingly, such as veering off to the side or slowing to a stop.

Avoid the risk to your ears and your quality of life. Wear headphones, not earbuds.

Keep your headphones clean

Your ears produce a waxy oil that seeps into your headphones while you wear them, drying as a greasy crust that clogs the device. As a result, not only will your hearing experience be impaired as the earwax blocks the sounds emitted from reaching your ears, leading you to raise the volume of your music or recording, but it also serves as a breeding ground for bacteria, increasing your risk of developing an external ear canal inflammation - the dreaded ear infection. Ear infections can be extremely painful and if left untreated, can lead to hearing loss. As such, they should be avoided at all costs.

Preventing your headphones from becoming a hotbed for bacteria is simple. All you need to do is clean them regularly. All you need is a small cloth or cotton swabs, some rubbing alcohol, or soap and warm water. Dampen your cloth or cotton swabs with the rubbing alcohol or soapy water and gently wipe all of the headphone’s surfaces clean. Use a cotton swab to get into the smaller crevices. Dab your device dry and allow it to air dry fully before using it again. For optimal results, repeat the process at regular intervals.

Limit wear time

It is important that you balance volume with listening time length. The louder the volume, the shorter the amount of time you listen to the music or sound should be. According to Sharon A. Sandridge, PhD, Director of Clinical Services in Audiology at the Cleveland Clinic, the rule of thumb is wear time should not exceed “Eighty percent volume for a maximum of 90 minutes at a time.” The longer you intend to use your headphones, the lower the volume should be, and the louder you increase the volume, the shorter you should cut your listening time.

To be even safer, try using the 60/60 rule. Listen for 60 minutes at just 60% of your device’s maximum volume, then take a 10-minute break before listening any further.

Use the Tunefork app

The Tunefork app offers flawless clarity of sound from your smart device, without endangering your ears. Following a simple self-test, our audio personalization technology creates a personal audio “earprint” to ensure the ultimate hearing experience over smart mobile devices. This way, you can enjoy the perfect match between smart mobile audio systems and hearing needs and hear exactly what you want to hear, without raising the volume and damaging your hearing.

Want to use headphones without damaging your ears? Download the Tunefork app today!


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