Are Headphones Bad For Your Ears?


Since the digital revolution brought us the iPad and now the tablet and loads of other devices that encourage the use of headphones, there has been much talk about the health implications of earbuds and headphones, and whether they might in fact be doing a lot of damage to your hearing without you even noticing it. I’m not a doctor but I do know a fair bit about the technology involved, and I’m here to give my verdict (and that of most health professionals) about whether headphones are bad for your ears or not.

The Technology Itself is Not Damaging

I remember a lot of talk not long ago about cell phones and mobiles causing problems to your brain, there are always conspiracy theorists who will tell you that there is a similar deal with other technologies, and though there may well be truth in it when it comes to telephones or other equipment I can tell you that the technology of the headphone itself will not hurt you, there is nothing about the way they work or connect with your ears that will cause you damage (unless you buy some that are made out of knives or something). So where does the potential danger come from?


A lot of people don’t realise that the volume at which we listen to music has a big effect on our hearing. Every time we blast our music out at an ungodly level we are potentially doing permanent damage to our ears. Not good at all. The problem with headphones is that they are so close to the eardrum that this risk is even more prominent.

Volume Capping

A lot of MP3 players and audio devices, to their credit, do cap the volume at which they transmit the music and try to discourage you blasting your tunes too much. The same can’t always be said for headphones, and some go up to decibel volumes that when played in your ear are comparable to a pneumatic drill, so you obviously need to be careful.

Resting Your Ears

It is also true that listening for a prolonged period of time, especially when music is very loud, increases the likelihood of our music being bad for our ears. You should make sure you take regular breaks from listening. This doesn’t mean you can listen extra loud as long as it is in short bursts!

Avoiding the Volume Up Switch

The most effective way to make sure your headphones aren’t bad for your ears is to make it easier to hear them, so how can you avoid the temptation to turn the volume up? I have two top tips.

  1. If you’re in the gym or another loud place when you listen to your music, buy some noise cancelling headphones to block out that sound instead of just turning yours up. Think about it, if you’re trying to drown out another sound you are not only turning your headphones up but combining it with the original sound you were hearing, a recipe for disaster.
  2. Get your ears syringed. This is a professional procedure to make sure your ears are clear and you don’t have any wax or unsightly distractions in your ear preventing your hearing from being effective. A simple procedure can make your hearing feel 10 x better.
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