Are Earbuds Bad For Your Health?

Are Earbuds Bad For Your Health?

Joelle Alcaidinho
Oct 18, 2011

As you can tell from the above image, we are no stranger to earbud headphones. Their small size make them extra convenient to always have in your pocket as you go about your daily routines and we use them every day. Recently though, we were challenged by a health professional to reconsider our earbud habit.

Surprise, the reconsideration our physician asked us to make was not due to volume levels. We all know that listening frequently at high volume can lead to hearing loss (whether with in-ear or on-ear headphones), and this is especially problematic when children use earbuds, so no surprises there. What we were not aware of, however, was that our frequent earbud usage was causing harmful wax build up.

We had gone to the doctor because of what we thought was an ear infection. Turns out the wax build up had caused a blockage and was what was causing the discomfort and diminished hearing. As soon as the doctor finished the ear exam and treatment he asked us to stop using earbuds as frequently.

Earbuds in themselves are not harmful, but if you are using them every day for prolonged periods and/or have small ear canals, wax build up is quick to accrue. Earbuds are not the sole culprit, just the main one since anything that is placed in your ear can push wax deeper in the ear and this includes cotton swabs, but people generally don't walk around with cotton swabs in their ears for hours.

If this is happening to you, do see your doctor. While there are some at home remedies, it is best to see a physician and have them take care of the build up and blockage. For more information about wax build up, blockage, and treatment, see this helpful article from the Mayo Clinic.

Not sure what on the ear or over the ear headphones are a good option to put in rotation with your earbuds? Check out these helpful headphone reviews from our archives:

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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