What happens if you wear headphones for too long?

Last update on Feb, 19, 2024

Every day, we rely on headphones to communicate, stream TV shows, and execute various other activities. However, it's important to realise that improper use of these devices can lead to a hearing impairment. While these devices are designed to enhance comfort and convenience, advocating for their complete ban to protect our hearing is unnecessary. Instead, our goal should be to understand how the excessive use of headphones might impact our hearing in the long run.

Why do my ears hurt after wearing headphones?

If your ears hurt after using headphones, there could be a few reasons why:

  • Prolonged use. Using them for too long can lead to ear infections, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears. It can also trap moisture in the ear causing ear infections.
  • Excessive volume. Listening at high volumes for extended periods can tire out your ears and lead to discomfort or even pain. Dangerous levels start around 85 decibels and can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage.
  • Incorrect use of headphones. Wearing headphones that are too tight can put pressure on your ears and cause discomfort, skin irritation, and itching. Also, they can make it harder for earwax to naturally clear out, which can lead to pain and inflammation.

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The risks of excessive use of headphones

Ear infection

Ear infections due to headphones are common because they trap sweat and moisture in the ears, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. Headphones prevent earwax from naturally clearing out and stimulate it's production, leading to a buildup in the ear canal. In such cases, consulting a doctor or pharmacist can help determine the best treatment. If there's no improvement after a few days, it's best to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for alternative treatment options.


Tinnitus, is a persistent high-pitched or hissing sound, that can result from using headphones or earphones, especially when listening at high volumes. This condition can significantly disrupt an individuals’ daily life, affecting their concentration, sleep, and overall well-being.

Hearing loss

The degree of hearing loss is often determined on both the volume of a sound and the duration of exposure. At first, hearing loss can manifest itself as a feeling of hearing fatigue rather than an immediate hearing impairment. However, prolonged exposure to loud sounds can exacerbate this fatigue, resulting in a more severe case of hearing loss.

To prevent discomfort and problems, follow the "60-60 rule": use your devices for 60 minutes at a maximum volume of 60%.

Why do my ears hurt after wearing hearing aids?

Wearing hearing aids may cause discomfort due to various reasons. One common cause is infections, due to prolonged use which alters the skin flora in the ear canal and leads to dermatitis and skin irritations. To prevent such issues, cleaning your hearing aids properly is crucial. For this reason, Amplifon provides a variety of products for routine hearing aid maintenance.

Does it hurt to wear hearing aids for a long time?

Hearing aids play a crucial role in enhancing our ability to hear, and when used correctly, they typically don't cause discomfort or issues. However, wearing hearing aids for a long time can sometimes trigger minor side effects, like allergies, infections, or irritations. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to mention this to your hearing care so they can match you with the correct hearing aid. Additionally, Amplifon products are certified to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

Can headphones and hearing aids be used together?

People who wear hearing aids can use special headphones designed for them. These headphones amplify sound from smartphones and TVs directly into the ears. Bluetooth headphones also use this technology to connect to nearby devices for calls and music. Alternatively, there are amplified headphones for watching TV or listening to the radio without restrictions. 

Why choose Amplifon?

By choosing Amplifon as your hearing care provider, you’re choosing to be cared and looked after by qualified and experienced Audiologists who can help change the way you listen to the world around you.

Why do earbuds hurt my ears?

Earbuds can also cause ear pain because they're foreign objects in contact with the ear canal. This can lead to irritation and inflammation, especially for inviduals with sensitive skin. Dermatitis may result in ear infections, causing intense pain, particularly if earphones are used despite discomfort or if they push earwax deeper into the ear canal. In such cases, it’s crucial to avoid self-treatment and consult a specialist or doctor for appropriate therapy.

Bluetooth headphones: are they a health risk?

Bluetooth headphones are generally considered safe. However, a study published a few years ago raised some concerns about potential health consequences stemming from prolonged exposure to the electromagnetic fields produced by Bluetooth technology.

Nonetheless, a more recent study refuted these claims, suggesting that the level of risk associated with Bluetooth radiation is actually lower than that of smartphones. In fact, it is essential to recognise that wireless headphones are not harmful to our health as long as we use them responsibly.

Other questions? Come and visit us in an Amplifon center

Book an appointment and come and visit us at one of our Amplifon centers, our hearing care professionals will be ready to answer any of your curiosities about the world of hearing and to show you our range of Amplifon hearing aids.

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Tips for using headphones or earbuds without damaging your ears

In addition to daily cleanings, there are a few small precautions that can be taken to use headphones or earbuds without damaging your ears:

  • Keeping the volume of the device at 60% or lower
  • Wearing a comfortable fit that does not apply too much pressure on the ears
  • Using a dry and soft cloth to clean the devices
  • Taking regular breaks from wearing them
  • Avoiding prolonged usage
  • Scheduling periodic ear checks to reduce the buildup of earwax.
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When should you see a doctor?

If you ear pain lasts more than a day or you suspect an infection or injury, don't treat it yourself. Consult your pharmacist about over-the-counter ear drops or consult a hearing specialist for a thorough examination and treatment. Regular check-ups and hearing tests are the best prevention.

For those with hearing issues, choosing the right hearing aids, whether external or internal, is important. Amplifon's experts can help you find the best option for your needs.


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