The Truth About Earbuds & Your Health
If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time wearing earbuds: at the gym, at work, on the bus, and so on. Ever wonder whether earbuds are safe to use? Here’s what you need to know.
Our earbuds tell a story
Think about where your earbuds are right now. They might be in your bag or on the airplane tray table in front of you, the same one many, many passengers have used before. The fact is our earbuds travel with us everywhere we go, and they also pick up dirt and bacteria along the way. Now, our ears secrete a substance known as cerumen, or earwax, whose job it is to trap and expel dirt and bacteria from our ear canals. The problem, however, is that earbuds trap warmth and humidity inside the ear canal, and that’s the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The more bacteria, the higher the risk.
There’s no need to panic, but you should still be aware that even though the risks of developing an infection are slim, they aren’t nonexistent. Researchers have found that some earbuds carry yeast, a type of fungus that can lead to infection. That means that you should think twice before sharing someone else’s earbuds because doing so can introduce new bacteria to your ear canal. If you must share, make sure to disinfect earbuds with rubbing alcohol or a spray-on disinfectant.
Beyond infection risks, you should know that prolonged use of earphones of all types can lead to hearing loss. Most portable music players produce sounds around 105 decibels when set to slightly below half volume, which can cause damage after only one hour. This is something to keep in mind, especially since we use our music players every day, at the gym, during our commute and even sometimes at work. If you think you might be at risk, contact your audiologist in Calgary for a hearing test. The best way to protect your ears is to adopt safe listening practices and make the occasional visit to your local hearing clinic.