We don’t always use the best earphones, but in celebration of World Hearing Day, there are some tips we can heed to help us hear.
March 3 is World Hearing Day, and while every day is a hearing day of sorts when you have music or sound that you love, the message from World Hearing Day is one you can hear loud and clear. Specifically, it’s about caring for your hearing, because you only get one pair of ears, and more specifically, you can lose your hearing if you don’t take care of it.
Hearing is a rather fragile thing, but it’s something we don’t talk about all that often. While some hearing loss can come from diseases, much of the hearing loss we end up hearing about, no pun intended, tends to arrive from how we hear the world, and how we listen to music and other things.
If you’ve owned a phone in the past 20 years, it’s probably and more consistently through a pair of headphones or earphones, and possibly the ones that came with your phone. We don’t always have that option now, given that free earphones have been removed from the box of at least one major smartphone brand, but that’s beside the point. Relying on a free pair of anything is often going to lead you to a pair that hasn’t been designed with your hearing in mind, and may require you to turn up the volume, but that’s not great.
It’s one thing you shouldn’t do, because loud noises can damage the cells and membranes in your ear, eventually causing them to die, and leading not just to hearing loss, but also the sound of tinnitus.
You’ve probably heard people talk about it, but the randomly-pitched noise that is tinnitus can eventually become what you hear, forcing you to drown it out with other music and sounds. You should know there is no cure for tinnitus, because what everyone is hearing is different. It’s not like noise cancellation technology, which can quell noise by filtering spectrums of sound. Tinnitus is different, and once you have it, well, you’re kind of stuck.
So it’s important to take care of your hearing health properly and throughout your life.
Fortunately, there are a few tips worth paying attention to that can help with that, and perhaps give your ears a bit of a breather as you continue to enjoy the sound of the world.
Turn your volume down
First and foremost, turn your volume down. This is going to make us sound a little like a bit of an old and cranky person, but it’s a consistent tip because volume matters.
We tend to jack up the sound because it makes us feel like we’re there, with loud volumes making an audio experience seem that much more real, but in turn, able to do very real damage.
Audio that is too loud is the very thing that can damage the tiny hairs in your ear that make it possible for you to hear the variations that make up sound, that make it possible for you to enjoy your tunes and tracks and podcasts and more.
So keep the music down manually, or, if you’re concerned, set a volume limitation in your device’s settings to force the issue just in case.
On recent versions of iOS for the iPhone and iPad, you’ll find the setting under “Sounds”, in the menu item “Reduce Loud Sounds”, which gives you the option to limit sounds to a specific decibel level.
On Android, that setting may not be there, though Samsung owners can find it in the menu setting for Sound under “Volume”, and Android owners can find an app on the Google Play Store that limits the sound otherwise.
Replace your standard headphones
Alternatively, you should consider changing your headphones or earphones, because the pair you might be using might not be doing your ears justice.
We like to listen to our music loud, for sure, but that can sometimes be because our earphones aren’t relaying the sound properly to our ears.
Earbuds are a good example of this, as the design is often such that if you’re listening to them out and about, the amount of sound they still allow into your ears means you don’t get much isolation, if any at all, and that makes people typically turn up the volume to account for it. In other words, if you’re using a pair of earbuds — possibly the stock earbuds your phone might have come with — you might be turning up the volume to account for how much other sound is bleeding through, and that comes at the expense of your ears.
You can finally hear the sound with a loud volume, but your ears might be struggling under that.
So the option might not be just to turn down the volume, but to buy a better pair of earphones or headphones.
Typically, earphones and headphones that don’t come with a phone offer a better amount of volume, and typically come with a hearing style that doesn’t let in as much sound from the outside world.
There are several types of headphone and earphone styles, too, such as circumaural where the headphone sits around the ear, supra-aural where the headphone sits on the ear, and intra-aural where the earphone tip goes inside the ear, and all of these deliver sound in a different way, and can go a ways to preventing outside noise from leaking in.
Noise cancelling earphones are another option to help segregate the noise of the outside from coming in, and may also prevent you from raising the volume significantly, though remember, noise cancelling earphones won’t block all sound.
Ultimately, a better pair of earphones and headphones is any that doesn’t come with a phone, though because every pair can vary, we’d suggest checking the reviews before you plonk down any money for just any pair.
Give your ears a bit of a breather every once in a while
And every so often, give your ears a bit of a breather.
While the volume of sound can have a detrimental effect on ears, so, too, can the duration of sound heard at certain levels. Plus sometimes, it’s just nice to give your ears some time off.
Every so often, take your earphones out and listen to the world. Let your ears adjust back to the reality of it all in a place like a park, going out and about, or even just the quiet at home.