Can Headphones Cause Ear Infections? 5 Tips to Prevent

An ear infection is an inflammation of the ear, specifically the outer or middle ear. This infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites. When you have an ear infection, your symptoms are usually pain in the ear, facial tenderness, discharge from the ear and a feeling of having to constantly clear your throat.

Headphones are a common accessory in today’s world. They’re used by many people in different situations to listen to music, watch movies, or talk to someone on the phone. But while they may be convenient, they can also cause some problems for the ears.

In fact, a lot of people suffer from ear infections because of their headphones. These ear infections can be caused by a wide variety of things, including a bad habit, a medical condition, or even a product defect. Regardless of the cause, these infections can be quite painful.

In this article, we’ll tell you about the connection between headphones and ear infections, can headphones cause ear infection and the best ways to prevent them.

What Causes Ear Infections?

There are two main causes of ear infections.

The first is bacterial infection. Bacteria multiply more quickly in the warm, moist environment inside your ear canal and, if left to proliferate, can cause an infection.

The second is a viral infection. Ear infections caused by viruses are more common than those caused by bacteria, but they’re also typically less troublesome. Since antibiotics don’t affect viruses, viral infections generally run their course without treatment and don’t require any special medical attention.

Earwax is a natural substance produced by glands in the ear canal. It helps protect your ears from dust and dirt particles, as well as bugs and other small critters that might be inclined to crawl inside your ears. The wax also helps keep the ears lubricated and prevents them from drying out.

However, earwax can build up over time, especially if you use cotton swabs or other objects to try to clean it out yourself (which isn’t recommended). Buildup of wax can cause blockages that lead to infection or temporary hearing loss.

Other risk factors include:

  • A cold or flu
  • The use of hearing aids, earbuds, headsets
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • A cleft palate
  • Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities

Can Wearing Earbuds Cause an Ear Infection?

The short answer is yes, it can. Ear infections are caused by a variety of factors, but wearing earbuds for extended periods of time is one of the main causes. Studies show that people who wear earbuds for more than three hours per day have a greater chance of developing an ear infection.

Earbuds, or headphones, are designed to be placed in the ear canal. The ear canal is a self-cleaning organ that generates ear wax, which helps to trap debris and repel water from deep within the ear. When this wax cannot move out of the ear naturally, it may become impacted and cause pain, hearing loss, and possible infection.

There are two types of headphones that can potentially cause damage to the inner ear:

The first type is those that fit directly into the opening of the ear canal, typically made of cheap rubber or foam materials. These sometimes come with a new music player or cell phone.

These types of headphones are bad for your ears because they not only block sound from entering the outer part of your ear but also create a seal in your inner ear. This creates an air vacuum that can affect your eardrum and change your hearing ability.

A second type of headphones is those that fit on top of the outer portion of the ear. These are generally made from plastic and may have a pad at the bottom for comfort. They do not create an airtight seal in your inner ear, but they still make it difficult for you to hear your environment, which could be dangerous if you’re using them while walking or biking.

It’s also important to realize that earbuds are designed to fit snugly in your ear canal. This means that any moisture inside the ear canal can get trapped inside the buds and cause an ear infection. So make sure to wipe off the buds regularly and wash your hands after removing them.

If you experience discomfort in your ear, or even pain or swelling, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. An ear infection can easily spread to the middle ear, which can lead to more serious complications if left untreated.

While most ear infections are not dangerous or life-threatening, they can still be uncomfortable. So if you’re experiencing discomfort in your ear, be sure to schedule a visit to the doctor right away.

Related: Best Earbuds for Hearing Impaired

How to Prevent Ear Infections from Headphones or Earbuds?

Headphones are a huge help when it comes to casual music listening. The problem is that they can cause ear infections if they aren’t used properly. How can you prevent headphones from causing ear infections? Here are some tips to consider if you want to protect your ears while enjoying your favorite tunes!

Keeping Your Headphones Clean

You should clean your headphones on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from growing. The easiest way to do this is to wipe down the exterior of your headphones with a damp cloth. You should also take out the inserts and clean them as well. This will help prevent bacteria from growing on your headphones and causing infections later on.

Disinfect Your Ears After Removing Headphones

After you’ve removed your headphones, it’s important to clean your ears with rubbing alcohol or a saline solution.

If possible, use an ear cleaning tool that can reach deep into your ears to remove bacteria-filled wax. If any infection has entered your ears during listening sessions, this will keep it at bay.Use only gentle tools when cleaning your ears to prevent scratching or irritation.

Avoid Going for Long Periods of Time with Headphones on

Headphones can cause infections when they’re used for hours at a time. The problem is that they can prevent air from reaching the skin inside the ear canal, which increases moisture and causes bacteria growth.

If you wear headphones every day, try taking them off every hour or so and giving your ears a rest. 

Use the Right Headphones

Wearing the wrong headphones can put you at a higher risk of developing an ear infection. If you use headphones that are too small, they can cause irritation and even pain in your ears. Larger headphones can cause more serious problems, such as earbud granulomas.

Earbud granulomas are rare but serious conditions that occur when a foreign body forms in the ear canal after the use of headphones or earbuds. The condition can be painful and should be treated by a medical professional if it occurs. Earbud granulomas can also make hearing difficult, so it is important to take steps to prevent them from occurring.

To avoid this problem, you should use headphones that fit properly and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. You may also want to consider using open-backed headphones that allow air to flow freely into your ears rather than closed-back or in-ear designs.

Watch the Volume

Among the most common causes of ear infections are loud noises. If you’re listening to music at a high volume level for prolonged periods of time, this can cause damage in the form of hearing loss and even pain in your ears.

This is especially true if you have “noise cancelling” headphones or earbuds, since they tend to block out ambient sound and make it more difficult for you to hear anything but the music coming directly through them.

In order to prevent ear infections, it’s important that you keep noise levels down by turning off any amplification feature on your headphones or earbuds and avoiding extended use when sounds are loud enough to hurt!

Related: Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Tinnitus?

Final Thoughts

The sound of music is so relaxing, and it seems like the perfect thing to listen to on a long plane ride or when you’re waiting for something. But, if you’re constantly wearing headphones, you may be putting your ears at risk. Headphones can cause infections in your ears if they are not cleaned properly or if they are worn for long periods of time.