Side Effects of Using Headphones for A Long Time

4 minutes

Headphones are generally used for a variety of purposes. With the rapid increase in remote work, headphones have become a essential part of our lives, whether we are listening to music or participating in Zoom meetings. Millennials are always on their phones and wearing headphones or earphones constantly. While studying or working, some of them even use earplugs. According to the 2022 United States Statista survey, the average number of hours young adults aged 19-29 spend using headphones each week is 7.8 hours. Also, an average of 5.5 hours of headphones are used per week by people in the age group 30 to 49 years and 5.2 hours a week are spent using headphones by those aged 50-79. The problem is that it is an unhealthy lifestyle habit that is harmful to your body as well as your mind.

Side Effects of Using Headphones

The sound waves the earphones produce reach our ears, causing the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration travels through the small bones into the inner ear and onto the cochlea, the fluid-filled chamber in the inner ear made up of thousands of tiny "hairs." When this vibration reaches the cochlea, the fluid vibrates, causing the hair to move. The louder the sound, the stronger the vibration and the more the hair moves. So continuous long-term exposure to loud music causes hair cells to lose their vibration sensitivity. It can also cause many other side effects.

1. Hearing Fatigue or Hearing Loss

Modern technology has a solid ability to deal with noise, so headphones are highly sensitive to noise. The long-term wearing of headphones or high volume will put the brain in a state of excitement, resulting in nerve fatigue and adverse effects on hearing. Suppose you use earphones for a long time. In that case, it will harm hearing, especially when the ear begins to experience tinnitus and deafness, because the capillaries in the cochlea tend to shrink and dry out, causing poor blood circulation in the pinna, causing ear muscle atrophy, hearing loss or severely affecting hearing.

2. Ear Damage, Causing Auditory Fatigue, Mainly Manifested as Tinnitus, Deafness, Ear-fullness, etc.

If you use headphones frequently, the sound will gradually become noisy. Prolonged use of headphones without rest can lead to symptoms such as acute-onset injury (tinnitus), earache and hearing impairment, and vertigo. Due to long-term excessive attention to sound, the blood circulation in the ear is seriously damaged, and the ear is prone to fatigue and even hearing impairment.

3. Causes increased intracranial pressure, leading to cerebral blood vessel rupture and cerebral haemorrhage.

Being in a noisy environment for a long time will produce a strong sense of stimulation, which will cause people to have symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness. In addition, after wearing earphones for a long time, it is easy to cause tinnitus and hearing loss. Hearing loss and hearing impairment caused by earphones will generally recover slowly within three months, not to say that they will return to normal after three months.

4. Lack of Focus

The sound that headphones produce can have a negative impact on the eardrums. Your nervous system is affected by sound travelling from your ears to your brain, which results in a lack of focus. Excessive use of headphones can lead to weaker concentration and focus abilities.

5. Excessive Earwax

In addition to tinnitus, hearing difficulty, earache, and frequent ear infections, long-term use of headphones leads to excessive ear wax.

6. Effect on The Brain

Long-term electromagnetic waves generated by headphones can cause damage to the brain as well. The brain receives signals from the ear through nerve fibres that are insulated by high decibel levels of noise. Ear infections can also affect the brain.

Case Studies

1. Pass experience of Katie from Bank Customer Service Industry

Katie has been working in the bank customer service industry for seven years. Before the epidemic, Katie was a full-time onsite worker and dealt with complaints from their clients daily. Since the epidemic, Katie has been working from home, dealing with complaints through telecommunication and wearing headphones for at least 6hrs a day. A few months later, wearing the headphones, Katie started to hear high-pitch noises and had trouble hearing others. Then Katie went for a check-up and found out the long-time wearing of headphones caused those symptoms.

2. Pass experience of Jack from Cambridge University

Jack is a 3rd-year student at Cambridge University, studying law. He spends hours and hours every day studying in the library. Every time Jack goes to the library, he wears headphones to listen to music so he doesn't affect others. However, Jack noticed that he was having difficulty focusing and unable to study effectively. Then he did some online research about losing concentration, and he found out that he couldn't concentrate because of the prolonged usage of headphones.

How to Reduce the Side Effects?

1. Decrease Volume Output

Decibels are units of measurement for sound. Even after prolonged exposure, hearing damage is unlikely if the sound level is below 60 decibels. However, repeated exposure to loud sounds above 85 decibels can result in hearing loss. Keeping the volume at 50% and reducing the listening time is the best way to avoid damage to your ears, even while measuring the decibel output in devices is complex.

2. Regular Cleaning

To maintain your hearing, clean your ears regularly. Regular cleaning of the ear canal will reduce the entry of bacteria, mold, fungus and dust into the ear canal and promote normal secretion. Avoid inserting cotton swabs, or ear picks into your ears. This allows bacteria and mold to get into your ears, affecting your hearing.

3. Reduce Usage Time

Wearing the headphones for extentive period of time, loud blaring music, or people speaking can damage the ears irreparably. In order to provide relief to the ears between sessions, it is always recommended to take breaks in between. It would be best if you took breaks of five minutes every 30 minutes and ten minutes every 60 minutes.

4. Use Speakerphones

With the many side effects of using headphones, it is recommended to use a speakerphone instead, as it not only reduces the chance of you getting those side effects from using headphones but also can set your ears free. You can use speakerphones to play music while working or conducting teleconference meetings without any worries about the side effects that may harm your body.

Some people worry about external noises and cannot hear the other party clearly while using the speakerphone when conducting a teleconference. However, you can forget these concerns by using the EMEET OfficeCore M3 Speakerphone or EMEET OfficeCore M2 Max Speakerphone. Due to the fact that these two speakerphones have Industry-Leading Noise Filtering, which can strengthen the human voice while cancelling out echo and ambient noise. Clear out noise in both ways to help you master your meetings without distractions.


In summary, using headphones can bring you an ideal private space, whether for listening to music or conference calls, but prolonged use will cause irreversible damage to your body. Therefore, it is vital to think about reducing headphones' usage or finding alternative methods.

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