Ear Phones Can Cause Serious Ear Problems

Ear Problem

New Project 4Ear Phones are ubiquitous – from attending zoom calls, to using while jogging or in the gym, or resorting to handsfree while performing other tasks ear phones have found multiple applications.

The ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) culture necessitated by the pandemic and our subsequent adoption of the ‘Hybrid’ model of working ensures that they are here to stay.

Purpose for adoption of the ear plug

Why are we so fond of these little devices – which have potential for such great harm? 

  • Improves signal to noise ratio – when attending to a call on a speaker or on the laptop there are extraneous sounds which are also being absorbed as well as being broadcast – this causes disturbance- the signal to noise ratio can be poor- specially if background noise is excessive. The ear plug/ ear phone cancels out all background noise and improves the quality of the speech sound that you hear. So the sound quality is clearer and in zoom calls/ teams/ google meet you do not struggle to hear what others are saying.
  • Sound clarity is better – This makes the music sound more pure – the reason that so many persons use in while jogging, in the gym, or when in a mood to enjoy good music.
  • Stereophonic sound – properly recorded music which is of stereophonic quality sounds so much better with ear phones because the sound seems to travel though your head giving it a rich three dimensional feel.
  • Hands free- it keeps your hands free to carry out other tasks including taking notes if required.

Problems with Earphone Usage

  1. Ear infection – if a sharp edges of an ear phone damages your ear canal skin you can get bleeding or a serious ear infection.
  2. Allergy – to the material used. Though by and large non allergenic, some materials may cause allergy – avoid that material
  3. Noise Pollution – there is a tendency, specially amongst young persons, to listen to loud music via their ear phones – this habit is dangerous and can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus – both of which could be permanent.
  4. Traffic hazard – danger to self. Sometimes joggers go out on roads and streets with headphones on – this could be dangerous since they may not hear sounds of traffic behind them.

What you can do?

  1. Select snugly fitting ear phones so that you do not have to keep touching them/ try to place them securely inside the ear.
  2. Take care of the devices – clean them well with spirit etc to keep them safe for use. Do not share someone else’s ear phones.
  3. Reduce amount of time you use the device to a bare minimum- Do NOT go to sleep with the device in your ears.
  4. Reduce the volume at which you listen to sound- This is what is recommended – the volume should be such that if someone calls you from behind you should be able to hear.
  5. When in doubt get yourself checked out- If you feel your ear phone usage is causing either a hearing loss or tinnitus (Buzzing sound in the ears) then get yourself checked out once.
  6. Switch to padded Headphones- these are safer and the sound quality is also better.
  7. Do NOT go in areas with heavy traffic with your ear phones on – you need to be able to listen to the surrounding traffic without hindrance- specially in India where road safety is a major concern.