August 5, 2021 3:00:22 pm
In the work-from-home situation, the time spent in front of a computer screen has increased for many people. With it, the usage of other paraphernalia, such as earphones, has also gone up. Back-to-back meetings, work calls, some respite in the form of music, staying connected with loved ones, etc., has made people more dependent on earphones than ever before.
Dr Jafferhusein Sura, consultant ENT surgeon at Masina Hospital, however, warns that in the last one year, there has been a rise in the number of patients with ear infections, itchiness of the ears, and hearing loss. “Earlier, only teenagers and young adults were using earphones or ear plugs for entertainment. Now, even children and the elderly are using them, with increased frequency for basic communication and learning,” he says.
The doctor answers some commonly-asked questions.
What are the complications that can arise due to constant unavoidable usage of earphones?
The ear plugs which fit tightly into the canal lead to abrasions and dryness of the skin, which may lead to itching. The itching can damage the skin and lead to bacterial and fungal infection. Furthermore, if the earphones are kept unclean, we may be infecting the ear.
Prolonged use of earphones at high volumes may lead to hearing loss. This may occur at any age, and no one is immune to the harsh effect of sudden exposure to a very loud sound, or constant exposure to loud sounds. Exposure to sounds above 90 dB which is equivalent to operating a lawn mower, should be maximum 8 hours a day. The average level of sound of personal devices is 80-90 dB. For loud music above 100 dB, one should limit the usage to less than 15 minutes. (WHO recommendations of noise exposure)
What are the precautions that need to be taken?
The one thing to remember is that these are essentially preventable complications. If the use of earphones is unavoidable, and is required for prolonged periods, it is better to use over-the-head earphones rather than the ear plugs. This will prevent the dryness and itchiness of the ears. It may reduce the risk of infections, too.
What are the habits that need to be adopted to protect our ears from infections and damage?
If one is using the ear plugs, preferably clean the rubber tips with alcoholic rub and dry them out before use. Store them in their box or in a clean place. If one is feeling itchy in the ears, apply coconut oil on the outer part of the ear canal for lubrication, rather than using ear buds or your fingernail. That may damage the skin, and may be harmful.
“With regards to the volume or exposure to sound, take a break in between long meetings/classes/entertainment sessions. Maximum safe volume to use is advised at 60 per cent. Also avoid a sudden increase in volume, which may happen by mistake,” the doctor cautions.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.