If you have used earphones for extended periods of time, it is likely that you have experienced headaches or earaches at one point or the other. Although it is not considered a condition serious enough to be labeled as a medical urgency it could lead to various other things, if not keep a check on. So, what could you ideally do? Not using earbuds is not an option because they are of great help during runs, workout sessions, conference calls etc. However, you could try other alternatives that will not be as definite as stopping usage altogether but will at least ease the discomfort that you have been experiencing.
Understanding earbud headache and earache
Not everyone gets a headache or an earache on using earbuds but if you do, you cannot let go by saying that it is just another one of those days that you might not be feeling well. If the pain is persistent, then you must visit a doctor. Earbud a headache or an earache is often characterized by a dull pain that intensifies over time. It might start as a light pressure building up around your eyes, temples and your forehead and extend to a full-fledged throbbing headache that refuses to go. If the usage of earbuds is way too much, then it could cause phantom headaches. Phantom headaches manifest themselves as sudden headaches even when the earbuds are off.
Determining the cause
While we agree that earbuds could give you a pounding headache and an annoying earache, finding the real cause of the pain is the first criteria. There could be several things like the particular fit or style of earbuds that might not suit you, the factor of hygiene that could lead to health problems and the amount of sound; each of these could be the cause.
Pressure of sound
If the speaker inside the earbud is powerful then the pressure created on the eardrum will be huge. While headphone speakers let out sound to some extent, earbuds keep the sound trapped inside. Most high–quality earbuds these days come along with a feature that cancels all external noises and lets you focus on the music alone. These earbuds let the pressure of sound build up till your eardrums get affected.
Buildup of bacteria
Did you think that the only thing building up at the moment is your drive towards music? Think again. Earbuds are designed to look like they have sealed the entire environment. This is perfect breeding ground for bacteria. While this might not land you in the hospital, the best thing to do would be is to keep your earbuds as clean as possible and replace old ear pads. The most important thing to remember is not to share your earphones with anyone else. Infections might travel from one ear to another and the last thing that you want is an ear infection that ruins all your weekend plans.
Even if the sound pressure buildup is not as strong, the cause of an earache could be referred pain in the ears. You might have an earbud that does not fit properly and thus causes your cheeks or jaws to pain.
Ways to avoid such headaches or earaches
Reduce listening times
While stopping the use of earbuds completely could be impossible, reducing time to listen does make a difference. Being glued to your earbuds will make you sore at one point or the other so limiting time around technology is a wise idea.
You could try doing short phases of using your earbuds. Not using it for a long time at one sitting will effectively and invariably shorten the duration of usage.
Adjust the fit of your earphones
The commonest reason for headaches or earaches due to earbuds is because their fit is too tight. They could also be too loose and that could account for the pain because you might have to constantly push the earbuds inside your ears and that in turn pushes the ear wax inside. This could be a simple thing to happen initially but if you keep doing for prolonged periods of time, you might end up severe earaches and headaches.
If you are using earphones, then you can adjust the size of earbuds as per your convenience. There are earbuds of different sizes available in the market and you can choose the one that fits into your ears perfectly without falling off or stuffing the ear canal.
When it comes to headphones, you have the advantage of adjusting the strap to either make it tighter or loosen it up to avoid any discomfort.
Turn down the volume
It feels great to listen to heart-thumping music while working out but if you have had episodes of headaches or earaches earlier, then it is a wise idea to turn down the volume before these aches become chronic. If you are getting a headache from the music then there is no denying the fact that it might be causing a good deal of damage to your ears.
Try other brands and types
It is possible that the headphones or the earbuds that you are using might not suit you. You could try other brands or types of earbuds to find out the one that works in your favor. Since there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to earbuds and headphones, the best thing to do would be to try out different pairs in order to find the perfect pair.
The Bottom Line
Earbuds will have to be comfortable in order to use them for prolonged periods of time. If your work structure or your activities need you to keep using earbuds all through the day then you must get rid of the pains that come along with the wrong size, wrong fit, and prolonged use. Take micro–breaks and get back to work once your pain subsides.