Harmful Effects of Listening Music over Earphones

Earphones are among the most compact audio devices for those who love listening to music as they do various things like reading, travelling, running, exercising among others. They are also cheaper than headphones which is another reason that makes them so popular.

However, they are very dangerous when used for a long time which means that you need to be very careful on how you use them. In this article, we shall reveal some of the effects of listening to music via earphones and earbuds.

Harmful Effects of Earphones


Ear Damage

One of the major disadvantages of earphones is that they can cause ear damage especially when the volume is high. This means that they can cause either partial or complete hearing loss. The sound that comes from the earphones causes the hair that is located inside the cochlea to bend and this is very dangerous to the ear.

Again, when the sound waves reach the ear, it causes vibration to the eardrum. These vibrations are then transmitted to the inner ear and they reach the cochlea by several small bones. The cochlea is a chamber that is full of fluids. Once the sound vibrations reach to the cochlea this fluid vibrates which causes the hairs to move.

When the volume is very high, the vibrations will cause more hair cells to move and this may lead to temporally loss of hearing.

What you also need to know is that the hair cells take a lot of time to recover from the vibrations caused by very high noise levels. In some instances, the cells may never recover due to severe damages which may lead to permanent hearing loss.

Causes Ear Infection

Unlike the headphones, earphones are inserted inside the ear canal which means that they block the air passage. This is very dangerous, and it can increase chances of ear infections.  Another thing you should avoid is sharing the earphones because they can transmit bacteria if one of the users has an infection.

You should also make it a habit of cleaning your earphones frequently. This is because the sponge in your earphones is normally exposed which means that it accumulates a lot of microbes, germs and bacteria after some time.  As a result, it can cause ear infections due to these germs.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss [NHIL]

This is a special term that is used to define the hearing loss from earbuds. This is a common problem among teens and kids who use earphones for long hours. To avoid this problem, you should ensure that the sound that comes from your earphones is less than 60 decibels.

Brain Damage

Earphones produce electromagnetic waves which can cause problems to the brain. Again, since the inner ear is normally connected to the brain, ear infections can be transmitted to the brain. Therefore, you should avoid having earphones in your ears all the time.

Loud noise also increases pressure in the ear canal, and this can lead to dizziness.

Excess Ear Wax

Using your earphones for many hours may lead to formation of excess wax. This is very dangerous, and it can also cause ear infection, earache and also tinnitus.


Using earphones that do not fit correctly can induce pain which may also extend to the inner ear.

Lack of focus

When you are listening to music through your earphones, you are likely to get carried away which makes it hard to concentrate on what you are doing. This is why you should never use headphones when you are driving or when walking on busy roads.

Safety tips you should consider when using earphones

Sony Earbuds
Sony Earbuds
  • Keep the volume low – Every time you are listening to music through the earphones, you should ensure that the noise levels are below 80 decibels. You should also remove them regularly maybe after every 30 minutes.
  • Avoid sharing your earphones – Sharing of earphones is very risky because they can transfer bacteria and germs from one user to the other. This also means that you should avoid secondhand earphones. You should also try to clean or sanitize them frequently. You should also avoid those earphones that get into contact with the ear canal such as the in-ear-earphones. Again, you should not force our earphones inside the ear canal. When you are using earbuds, you should ensure that the plastic part fits snugly.
    However, some in-ear earphones have excellent noise cancelling capabilities which means that such earphones are the best when used in low volume.
  • Avoid when driving: Another thing you should avoid is using earphones when you are driving or walking in busy roads.
    Headphones – In terms of safety, headphones are better than earphones especially those with active noise canceling capabilities. You should also consider those that allow you to adjust the volume.
  • Quality – Before you buy the earphones, make sure that meet the required standards. Cheap earphones may be suitable for those who are on a budget, but they are not the best.
  • 60-60 rule – This rule dictates that you should never use earphones for more than 60 minutes when the volume is more than 60%. If you follow this formula, you will never experience any problem when using earphones.

Effects of loud noise to your ears

The ear is made up of different parts which works together when processing sounds. These parts are the outer ear, middle ear and the inner ear. The inner part contains the cochlea which features tiny hair cells. The work of these cells is to send the sound message to your brain.

When the volume is too high, these cells can get damaged easily which means that the cochlea will not be able to send the message to the brain. This is very dangerous because once the inner ear is damaged, it is not easy to heal which means that the hearing problem will worsen over time.

Also Read: In Ear Vs On-Ear Vs Over Ear Headphones

Signs of hearing loss problem

Earphones and earbuds can lead to hearing problems. However, most people with this problem might not be aware they have hearing loss problem. Some of the problems associated with hearing problems are sound or audio distortion and hearing of a buzzing or a ringing noise in your ears.

Once you start experiencing such problems, you should visit a doctor immediately.


Generally, earphones are very safe to use. However, you need to be very careful because they have also been proven dangerous. Apart from the hearing problem, listening to music at a very high volume will also make you unaware of what is happening around you and this increases chances of accidents. To be on the safe side, always consider all the tips we have shared in this guide when using earphones

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