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The Importance of a Good Headset for Hearing Health

Many people use headsets for music, gaming, or connecting with clients and colleagues. Unfortunately, they tend to do so without much regard for the well-being of their ears. That may sound ridiculous, but it's a more pressing issue than you might realize.


A headset that doesn't sit properly on the ears, or worse, one that doesn't properly regulate sound, has the potential for permanent damage. Even a single burst of sound can damage the eardrums, and headphones at high volumes have themselves been linked to hearing loss, as reported by science-focused publication Pop Sci.  The good news is that this hearing loss is preventable.

When using a headset, you should be careful to balance the sound level with the amount of time you're using your device. A good rule of thumb is that you should never go over 60 per cent of your maximum volume for more than 60 minutes at a time. Try removing your headphones - if you can hear what you were listening to when you place them on your desk and walk away, then it's a good sign the volume is far too high.

Aside from ensuring you keep your volume at reasonable levels, it's important that you choose the right headset.
Consider investing in over-ear headsets over earbud-style. This allows you to listen to sounds at a lower volume and lower risk of hearing damage, thanks to the noise-cancelling ability that the former usually possesses. Consequently, earbud-style headphones have some connection to hearing damage, according to Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

Another word of advice is that you get what you pay for. A high-quality headset may come with a shocking price tag, but it's also built to high standards where manufacturing and safety are concerned. These are usually found in tandem with higher-fidelity sound, meaning you're much less likely to have to compensate for poor sound quality with higher volumes.

Moreover, lower-quality headsets tend not to last long, so you may well end up spending more on replacement than if you'd gone for a higher-end version.

As far as sound quality, consider looking for a pair of headphones with one built-in.  Some headsets are capable of outputting volumes as high as 120 dB. For context, the sound of a jackhammer is approximately 130 dB, and the sound of a jet engine is around 140 dB.

These are sounds you cannot and should not be around without hearing protection; ideally, you want to make sure your headset doesn't exceed 85 dB.

Everyone wants the best sound playback they can get at their price point without risking permanent hearing loss, especially with how frequently people are now working from home. Do your research, read the reviews, and don't be afraid to spend a little extra. After all, a good headset costs less than medical care for permanent hearing damage.

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Posted by Dr Pauline Dinnauer AuD

Gael Hannan

Dr Pauline Dinnauer AuD

Dr. Pauline Dinnauer, AuD is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing and hearing aid consultation across the US.

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