If you use earphones for a long time, can they damage your brain?

The brain is not affected by earphones, though the damage they do can be.

It is an age-old question: is it dangerous to use earphones while listening to music, watching a movie, or simply using the headphones on your mobile phone? While they provide convenience and relieve stress that we often face in our day-to-day lives, it is important that we think about the effects of prolonged exposure.

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Your brain and headphones

Not only can headphones damage your ability to hear properly, but they also affect the balance of sound waves so you feel dizzy and disoriented. However long you use them for, be sure to give your ears a break from time to time. They may be so full of earphones for years now that an adjustment would do them good.

Anxiety, headaches, tinnitus, high blood pressure and a whole bunch of other ailments can all be linked to a simple pair of headphones. The effects on your health depend on the type of headphone you use and how long you use them without breaks – but it’s not worth the risk.

Headphones with earbuds that insert into your ear canal are most likely to cause hearing damage. That’s because they create sound waves that vibrate your eardrum and send harmful vibrations through the inner-ear bones to the cochlea – which plays an important role in hearing.

The trouble is, most people don’t know how to estimate what level of sound quality is safe.

“Sound quality is subjective,” said Dr Mikhail Morozov, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. “If you use cheap headphones, you get what you pay for. You may get buzzing or crackles in your eardrums; it creates noise waves that are high-frequency and high-amplitude; they vibrate your eardrums and can cause damage both to the cochlea and inner ear.”

How long should I use earphones?

The earphones you use will determine how much damage they cause to your ears. Dr Morozov advises that you should restart your eardrums every hour with a break-taking interval of at least 10 minutes. The less you use it, the safer it will be.

“After a prolonged period of use, you could have hearing loss,” said Dr Morozov. “Ears are very sensitive organs in the body and for most people they are very, very efficient. If you listen to music at high volume or below properly adjusted sound quality, your ears won’t feel any discomfort at all. But if you listen for hours on end, your ear can become fatigued and is less efficient in listening to different sounds.”

Most office workers tend to use their headphones for 6-8 hours per day; studies show that 5-7 hours of music or television is perfectly safe, if played at the correct volume

Are earphones harmful?

The danger of earphones lies in the potential damage they can do to your ears over a long period of time. They can cause nausea, headaches and exhaustion – and that’s not all! Longer term exposure to earphones could also lead to hearing loss as well as tinnitus – a condition where people hear a constant ringing or buzzing sound in their ears. You need to listen to them at the right volume.

What is the correct volume for earphones?

The recommended volume is 60-85 decibels (dB) for comfortable use. If you listen to music at 100 dB then it should last for only 15 minutes, then have a 10 minute break

What is a decibel?

A decibel is a unit of measurement to quantify sound intensity. A scale is used to compare levels of sound. The decibel scale starts at just above silence at 0 dB and extends to 210 dB, which is considered the upper limit of human hearing. When sound gets very intense, it may cause physical injury to the ear. Highly intense sound can burst ear drums or even tear parts of the inner ear.

Can earphones damage nerves?

The nerves can also be damaged. Research studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between the level of loudness of a music and the risk of its damaging the inner ear. If you listen to loud music then the nerve cells coating will be damaged!

Be very careful about using earphones. If you like them, use small earbuds or in-ear headphones for short periods of time. Keep the volume low; you need to expose your ears to different sounds in order to maintain their efficiency in listening to sounds, especially if you listen to noise at work or in traffic.

When you’re listening to your favourite songs, remember that it is not possible to measure whether or not they are damaging your hearing with an instrument; only time will tell if they cause hearing damage.

Do earphones give off radiation?

Yes but you don't really need to worry about it. (for bluetooth headphones). The the World Health Organisation the International Agency for Research on Cancer and similar authorities have warned that they may cause cancer.

The truth is that we don’t know how harmful their effects are to people with inner ear problems, but if you have any ear problems go see an ENT specialist. If not, keep in mind that earphones could harm your hearing or your nerve cells or both if you listen to one long term.

The amount of radiation from bluetooth headphones is less than the cellphone itself, but even the “low” Bluetooth output is enough to disturb the nerve membrane in the cochlea. The exposure depends on how close you are to the headphones and how long you’re wearing them, so be conscious of your exposure whenever you’re using earphones.

Does listening to music decrease IQ?

No, its does not lower or raise you IQ. Listening to music doesn’t change your IQ, but rather how you think and behave in social situations. If you have a low IQ, music will not help you in anyway, the same as a high IQ.

Listening to music increases the brain's electrical activity and makes it a better partner when it comes to learning or working with others on certain tasks.

How do you know if your hearing is damaged?

There are several ways to know if you have a loss of your hearing, the most common is not being able to follow a conversation in a noisy room, but if you're not sure try this test below.

  • Asking people to repeat themselves or speaking more clearly is one clear sign that you might be experiencing hearing loss.

  • When you're in a group of people or at a party, ask someone to whisper something in your ear so they have to speak very quietly. If they have to speak very quietly, but you still can't hear them, you may have hearing loss.

  • If you need to turn up the TV louder than most people do, there's a possibility that your hearing is damaged.

  • You can test your ability to hear high-pitched tones by striking any nearby object that produces a clear tone (e.g., glass). If this tone is difficult for you to distinguish from nearby sounds, the high tones in your own voice may be harder for you to hear as well, indicating hearing loss.

  • If you notice that people are mumbling, or that they leave spaces between words when talking to you, it could be a sign of hearing loss.

  • Finally, if people think something is wrong with your hearing even though you're not sure yourself, it may be time to get checked out. Because everyone's health is different and how your body reacts to certain situations varies from person to person, it's difficult to be entirely sure if your hearing is affected until you get tested for it.


In conclusion, the most practical advice would be to use your earphones with caution and to follow the recommendations from those who can help. In this article we have recommended the best headphones for different circumstances as well as some useful tips on how to choose them. Like most products, there are a number of options which vary in terms of technology, sound quality and price.

Apple AirPods Max - Silver
  •  Apple-designed dynamic driver provides high-fidelity audio
  • Active Noise Cancellation blocks outside noise, so you can immerse yourself in music
  • Transparency mode for hearing and interacting with the world around you
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking provides theater-like sound that surrounds you
  • Computational audio combines custom acoustic design with the Apple H1 chip and software for breakthrough listening experiences
JBL TUNE 750BTNC - Wireless Over-Ear Headphones with Noise...
  • JBL Pure Bass Sound
  • 15H battery life with BT+NC and 2H recharging time
  • Active Noise Cancellation
  • Hands-free calls and Voice Assistants
  • Lightweight and foldable design
Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones...
  • Advanced Noise Cancellation Technology: Maintain your focus with Life Q30’s hybrid active noise cancellation. Dual noise-detecting microphones pick up and filter out up to 95% of low-frequency ambient sound to ensure nothing distracts you from your music.
  • Ultimate Noise Cancellation Experience: Customize Life Q30’s noise cancellation with 3 modes—Transport minimizes airplane engine noise, Outdoor reduces traffic and wind, and Indoor dampens the sound of busy offices with people talking in the background.
  • Hi-Res Music: Hear every detail of your favorite songs thanks to Life Q30’s 40mm drivers. The highly-flexible silk diaphragms reproduce thumping bass and crisp treble that extends up to 40kHz for improved clarity.
  • 40-Hour Playtime: Life Q30 active noise cancelling headphones play up to 40 hours of music in noise cancelling mode. Standard mode extends the playtime to 60 hours, while a short 5-minute charge gives you 4 hours of listening.
  • Pressure-Free Comfort: Life Q30 active noise cancelling headphones have ultra-soft protein leather earcups with memory foam padding to fit snugly over your ears. The lightweight build also ensures they’re comfortable for long listening sessions.

Last update on 2022-01-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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NicK Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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