Are Headphones Unhealthy?

Technology its constantly improving.  TVs are becoming clearer, cars are more eco friendly and food is grown more efficiently.  With so much change occurring, there has to be some technology that can have negative impact the human body.  A big health question mark are newly developed noise cancelling head phones such as Beats and Bose.  They are bigger, louder and clearer than ever before.  Wearing headphones that produce more noise are bound to have negative impacts on a persons hearing.  With this thought in mind, I researched more to determine if there was any evidence to actually prove that using headphones can have a negative impact female-radio-listener-headphones-smiling-eyes-closed-01on someones hearing.

This claim is very straight forward; wearing headphones more frequently can have a negative impact on a persons l
ong/ short term hearing.  Since it is occurring over time, reverse causation can be ruled out as a possible explanation.  Also, it is hard to think of a confounding variable that would cause a person to wear headphones more often, as well as negatively impact their hearing.  For these reasons, it is easy to say that direct causation is the most likely explanation behind the claim. This makes it easier to research and determine whether it is true.

A 2016 study posted in the International Tinnitus Journal aimed to find a correlation between teen listening habits and hearing loss.  A team studied 131 high school students and asked them questions regarding headphone usage, average volume, and average listening time.  The study found that 79% of the population used headphones on a daily basis, with 37% claiming they listen at a high volume.  The team also asked them questions related to their hearing ability.  What they found was that teens who reported listening to music at
higher volumes with headphones were more likely to report difficulty concentrating, the need to ask people to repeat themselves and various other symptoms relating to degraded hearing.  The team concluded that teens in this study were using personal headphones at rates higher than recommended.  Of those polled, the team would recommend Hearing Health Promotion Programs for a majority of the population.


Although this study provides some convincing evidence, an article written by two doctors in Health Scope claims that there are enough studies done to determine whether or not headphones can negatively effect a persons health.  Despite the lack of studies, the doctors believe that it is more likely than not that headphones effect a persons hearing.  The article provides evidence to support their claim.  Decibel levels of headphones (around 85 deci
bels) usually cause complications in a person hearing if they are exposed for more than 15 minutes.  This level of sound has been shown to numb ears and impact a listeners hearing over a long period of time.  Another reason the doctors believe that headphones are harmful is due to the abundance of electromagnetic rays emitted by the speakers.  These waves are believed to negatively effect the brain, however there is no solid evidence to prove this.  500px-anatomy_of_the_human_ear_svg-cropped

The study provides evidence to support my original claim that headphones are bad for a persons health.  However, it only samples 130 kids of similar age.  With such a small sample size, it is hard to claim that this study provides enough evidence to confirm the claim.  Although

the authors of the Health Scope article are convinced that headphones are not good for health, they admit that there are not enough studies to prove this.  They provide evidence from various experiments done about noise, but none of these studies directly link headphones to hearing loss.  Although the general consensus among the science community is that headphones effect hearing, there are no studies that can directly prove this.  Despite this lack of evidence, there is enough medical data to convince a reasonable person to turn their music down a little in an attempt to preserve their hearing.

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3 thoughts on “Are Headphones Unhealthy?

  1. Rebecca Jordan Polaha

    This post caught my eye because my mom always said I was going to go deaf if I listened to my music as often and as loud as I do. One thing I am curious about is if the type of headphone (earbuds or regular headphones) have different results. I feel as though ear buds would be worse for your hearing because they are literally in your ear canal pretty much. Overall, very good post I can tell you researched into this a lot!

  2. Alexandra Nicole Iaccino

    This blog post is very informative and interesting. I admit to listening to music a little too loud through my headphones and I recently became concerned that it was bad for my hearing. It’s relieving to know that there is no direct link between headphones and hearing loss. However, I think it would be better to turn down the volume just to be safe.

  3. Jackie Michelle Tremblay

    I think it would be cool if there was a longitudinal study that followed different generations. Younger generations use headphones more than older ones. If there was a study done that compared rates of hearing loss within different generation I bet the younger ones would be higher. I also wonder if the closeness old the waves is more detrimental that the power of the waves. Say you listened to a speaker that wasn’t in you ear but sounded to be the same volume as a headphone. Would that make a difference is how it affects the ears? Interesting post!

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