Headphones Vs Earbuds: Are You Hurting Your Ears?

Headphones and earbuds are popular devices that we use in this day and age. In fact, I expect that the average young person has at least one pair of earbuds or a pair of headphones to listen to the latest hits (Asake, is that you?).

But before we keep enjoying the music to the loudest and fullest, we need to understand that using both headphones and earbuds- auditory devices- actually carry a chance of danger and temporary hearing loss. Before you read this article, take this quiz to find out how much you really know!


Is It Dangerous To Use Headphones and Earbuds?

Yes. These devices have been associated with an increased tendency of ear damage and hearing loss in the future.

  • Listening to music at loud sounds may rupture the ear drum, especially if it’s prolonged exposure.
  • Playing loud music with these devices can constitute a form of noise pollution which can lead to hearing loss as well as other problems in the future if not checked.
  • Sharing these devices can lead to sharing of ear infections from one person to the other.

Which is Better? Headphones or Earbuds?

Headphones are much better for you than earbuds. This is because:

  • They are positioned over the ears, unlike the earbuds that have to be directly inside the ear canals. This distance provides a small buffer against the harmful effect of loud music, creating an acoustic seal.
  • They are less likely to cause ear infections. Again, this is due to the fact that they are not physically inside the ear canals and unlike earbuds.
  • It’s easier to hear music at lower volumes with headphones. Unlike earbuds which have to be increased because of their close proximity in the ear canal, headphones can be used to listen to music at lower volumes.

Can I safely Use Them?

As they say, ‘too much of everything is not good.’ We’ve recognized that headphones are safer to use and can be used if done right. This means that they should be used at 60% percent of their volume for no longer than 60 minutes. This famous 60-60 rule is used to guide the safe usage of these devices.

What’s The Best Option For Me?

It is better to listen to music from a speaker ( at a reduced volume of course) and use headphones only once in a while. The noise-canceling headphones are recommended for use. Also if you have to use earbuds, use those with a flexible, soft tip rather than those with a hard plastic tip. This makes it easier to form the acoustic seal effects. It is important to be conscious of your usage of these devices. Also, some people have more sensitive hearing than others so lower levels are recommended for them.

It is important to note that the term earbuds used in this article represent both wired and wireless earpieces.

As always, it’s better to see a doctor for regular ear examinations for the best results.

Till my next post,

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Dr. Omotola Oke


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