Who doesn’t love to listen to music? Whether you’re driving, working out at the gym, running, walking, or just trying to relax after a long day of work, music definitely makes everything better. It’s wonderful to kick back with your favorite band, album, or playlist and let the tunes soothe you and drown out your stress.
But what if that listening to music was actually harming your body? It may surprise you to hear it, but your headphones could actually be bad for your ears!
On this page, we’ll answer the question “Are earbuds bad for your ears?” We’ll look at the link between earbuds and ear infections, as well examine the question “Do earbuds cause hearing loss?” By the end of this page, you’ll know everything you need to know about the pros and cons of using earbuds…
Are Earbuds Bad for Your Ears: Benefits of Using Earbuds
Why do we use earbuds instead of the classic style of headphones, over-the-ear headphones, or even the studio-style headphones? There are a few things that make earbuds a popular choice:
- Noise reduction
Thanks to the design of the earbuds, you can listen to your audio without interference from outside noise. The in-ear design blocks out most of the noise, and the silicone tip enhances the noise reduction of the headphones.
- More complete sound
When you listen to music with earbuds, the in-ear headphone delivers a better-rounded sound, thanks to the fact that there is no environmental noises or sounds interfering with your hearing. You can hear more easily, giving you a richer, more complete listening experience.
- Lower volume
Because you’re not trying to drown out ambient sound, you can turn down the volume of whatever you’re listening to. Your risk of damaging your ear with high-decibel sound is reduced.
Over-the-ear or studio-style headphones are great for use at a desk or in the studio, but they’re often a bit too bulky to travel. With earbuds, you can simply roll them up into a tight bundle and stuff them into any pocket. They’re the perfect pair of headphones to use on the go.
As you can see, there are benefits to using this type of headphone. These benefits listed above are the primary reasons that earbuds are so popular. Sadly, they’re not as good for the health of your ears…
Are Earbuds Bad for Your Ears: Risks of Using Earbuds
Sadly, there ARE risks of using earbuds. Earbuds are designed to enhance the sound/audio experience, but they weren’t built with ear health in mind. The answer to the question, “Are earbuds bad for your ears?” may not be one you’ll like…
Earbuds and Ear Infections
If you knew that using earbuds increased your risk of ear infections, would you keep wearing them? Well, here’s what you need to know about earbuds and ear infections:
- Earbuds trap liquid
Do you use earbuds when you work out? If so, you know that icky, sticky feeling you get when using earbuds while sweating heavily. Any moisture that gets inside your ear stays trapped there, preventing your ear from cleaning itself.
- Earbuds introduce dirt
Every time you insert the earbuds into your ear, you’re introducing new bacteria, germs, dirt, and dust. These things tend to collect on the earbuds via your fingertips, from the air, etc.
All of these factors combine to increase your risk of ear infections.
Earbuds and Your Ear Wax
As mentioned above, using earbuds increases ear wax build-up.
Earbuds cause ear wax build-up- In a previous post, we answered the question “Are earplugs safe?” One of the main drawbacks of using earplugs was that they preventing the ears from cleaning themselves, as they are designed to do.
The ear is designed to clean itself, and its shape allows the wax to be carried outward like a conveyor belt and ultimately fall out from the ear canal. Similar to what happens with extensive earplug wear, while you are wearing earbuds extensively, you prevent the wax from falling out naturally due to the earbuds acting as a “stopper”.
You see, every time you insert the earbuds, you’re pushing something into your ear. It pushes the wax already in your ear deeper, and this can lead to a buildup of wax in your ear canal. The increase in wax buildup can lead to blockages or impacted ear wax. This ultimately impacts the quality of the sound you’ll hear.
So while earbuds can help offer a more complete listening experience by getting rid of environmental noises, wearing them extensively can actually interfere with your listening experience if you don’t properly manage your ear wax.
Do Earbuds Damage Hearing?
Many people ask, “Are earbuds bad for your hearing? Do earbuds damage hearing, or is that just a myth?”
Well, remember how we mentioned “excessive ear wax buildup”? Well, what happens when that ear wax builds up so much that it blocks sound waves from traveling through your ear canal? The wax buildup essentially reduces the function in your ear, blocking off your hearing.
You could go deaf (temporarily, of course) if the buildup of earwax becomes a plug so large that it completely blocks the ear canal. To restore hearing, the ear wax plug needs to be cleaned out.
The risk of improper volume control from earbuds is also a factor to be aware of while listening to music with earbuds. Due to the fact that the earbuds are blasting your music directly into your ear canal over prolonged durations of time, if you have the volume too loud on your music, you increase your risk of developing hearing problems.
Are Earbuds Bad for Your Ears: Is there a Solution?
If you love your music, you may be cringing at everything you’ve just learned. After all, you’ve just found out that your earbuds may be doing damage to your ear.
But don’t despair! There are a few solutions to your problem:
Solution #1: Change your headphones
Just because earbuds can increase your risk of ear infections, ear wax buildup, and hearing problems, that doesn’t mean ALL headphones will. The classic studio-style and over-the-ear headphones won’t cause the same problems. They may not cancel out as much noise, but they’re a much better choice for your ear health.
Solution #2: Spend less time wearing earbuds
If you can’t live without earbuds, perhaps spend less time with them in your ears. Listen to music on your car radio, stereo set, or sound system. Only use your earbuds when you have no other choice. This will reduce the risk of damaging your ears!
Solution #3: Clean your ears
How can you clean your ear?
You can flush your ear using mineral oil or warm water, or use a bit of hydrogen peroxide to soften the wax.
Keep your earbuds clean, and change them out regularly to reduce bacteria buildup.
The Oto-Tip is another easy solution for cleaning your ear. Its automated spinning soft tip will help to clean your ears at home.
Your ears are delicate mechanisms, so it’s vital that you take good care of them. The information above will make it clear: earbuds can be bad for your ears if you’re not careful!
However, our solutions will help you keep your ears clean, reducing your risk of impacted ear wax, impaired hearing, and ear infections.