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Is wearing headphones bad for your health?

Worried about excessive headphone use? Here’s what to know.

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Image: Marshall

Whether it’s motivation music for the daily grind, blissful tunes for the commute, or mood music for relaxing to, music literally soundtracks our lives. If you can’t live without it, you’ve probably got multiple sets of headphones, from noise-canceling cans for the commute, to open-backed beauties for home listening, and maybe even another set for the office.

Maybe you prefer earbuds, especially if you’re an Apple user where things like quick-switching on AirPods makes changing between devices effortless. With all of that headphone wearing, you might wonder if there are any possible ill-effects to your health. I mean, too much of anything is a possible risk factor, right?

So, can headphones be bad for your health?

Short answer: Sure, but only if used in an unsafe way

You might have heard anecdotes about headphones causing anything from cancer, to ear infections, to brain damage, to vertigo, or even hair loss. Some of these have a basis in truth, like vertigo which can be caused by earbuds being too loud, or by imperfect active noise-canceling. No, your AirPods aren’t giving you cancer, so stop sharing that Medium article from 2015. Seriously, stop it. I’m not even going to link to it because they don’t deserve the clicks.

No, your headphones aren’t making you lose hair. The headband might catch some of the hair your head naturally sheds every day, but it’s no more than the usual amount. Yes, wearing earbuds increases your risk of ear infections, but so would keeping your finger in your ear for long periods of time. Just clean your earbuds more often and don’t share them with family or friends.

And no, they can’t dent your head. Just stop it. Yes, infants don’t have solid skulls, but you’re not an infant, are you? This means that wearing headphones as an adult won’t indent your skull. It’s possible it’s deforming your skin, especially if you have heavy headphones, but not wearing your headphones for a short while should make everything move back into place.

What do you think? Have you ever been worried about any of these things when wearing headphones? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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