Blog » Health Blog » Ears, Nose and Throat » Can In-ear Headphones Cause Infection? Learn Tips for Safe Usage

Can In-ear Headphones Cause Infection? Learn Tips for Safe Usage

There are several reasons for an ear infection such as allergies, sinus related infection, smoking or air pressure changes. But can in-ear headphones cause infection? You’d be surprised to know that in-ear headphones are one of the biggest cause of hearing loss, as per some studies. Therefore, this question has been at the center of discussion for a very long time. Apart from hearing loss, how many of us are aware of the infection caused by the in-ear Headphones? Let’s get to know the ways in which the in-ear headphones cause infection and the tips on prevention.

How In-ear Headphones Cause an Ear Infection?

Most of us have a constant habit of using earphones, whether it be at the gym, while traveling or while relaxing. Headphones isolate us from the outer world and let us have our own space.

According to researchers, the risk of getting an infection is higher with in-ear headphones compared to an infection caused by over the ear headphones. Inserting in-ear headphones create a perfect environment for the bacteria to grow. This bacterial growth leads to infections in the ear.

Ways in which in-ear headphones causes Ear Infection

Let’s discuss the myriad ways in which in-ear phones can cause ear infection below:

Headphones disturb the natural flora of the ear

  • Our ears contain wax, bacteria, dead skin cells and other substances. Also, the ears have a certain microbial flora that is disturbed by headphones encouraging the bacteria residing in our ears. The common bacteria are Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Streptococcus species and others.
  • An optimal level of this wax, bacteria and dead skin cells causes no harm to the ears. But infections occur when the number of bacteria and dead cells are very high.
  • Prolonged usage of earphones causes sweating. Water, sweat and humidity are an ideal environment for the bacteria to flourish inside the ear.

Stocking dirty in-ear headphones cause infection

  • The earbuds we keep inserting in our ears are exposed to the environment at all times. It keeps picking dust and germs from the air.
  • Dust and germs easily stick to the earwax which is already stuck to the earbud, which is then transferred to our ears. The wax stuck on the surface of earplugs does not dry because of the layer of dirt on it.

Sharing of in-ear headphones cause infection

  • Friends or Relatives do not matter when it comes to the spread of ear infections. Sharing in-ear headphones increase the chances of catching an infection. Sharing allows transfer of bacteria and microorganisms from an infected person to another. In–ear headphones become an appropriate medium to transfer.
  • It is not only the transfer of bacteria to the ear which is harmful. If the bacteria from the ear comes in contact with an open wound on the body, it can cause further infection.

In-ear Headphones are the perfect place for bacteria growth

  • Our ears are generally open to air. Inserting in-ear headphones blocks the air creating a sustainable environment for the bacteria to grow.
  • Moisture in the ear can lead to fungal infections as well. Fungus generally grows in moist areas with a little warmth. With in-ear headphones they get an appropriate environment to grow and flourish.
  • Bad ear hygiene is another reason for the infections to occur. The chances of getting an infection increases when proper cleansing is not done. Ear hygiene is very important to stay away from infections.
  • The earbuds when not cleaned for a long time inhabit bacteria which infect the ears. It also makes one more susceptible to infections.

Tips For Safe In-ear Headphones Usage

Researchers have found that wearing in-ear headphones for an hour increases the chances of getting an infection. Whether bacterial or fungal, infections do damage to the ear.

Mentioned below are the tips which can minimize the chances of getting an infection from in-ear headphone usage:

Keep the earbuds clean to prevent ear infection

  • The earbuds must be disinfected at regular intervals to prevent infection. Disinfection prevents the formation of a layer of wax and dust. Dust free earplugs reduce chances of infection.
  • Clean the earbuds at least once a week to stay clear of the infections.

Do not share earphones with anyone to prevent ear infection

  • Friends or no friends, sharing headphones is not an option when it comes to an infection. You must keep your earphones to yourself to prevent the spread of infection.

Change the cover of earplugs to prevent infection

  • Make sure you change the cover of your headphones. This helps prevent the accumulation of bacteria or dust on them.
  • In case your earphones have a sponge or rubber cap, keep replacing it at regular intervals. If your earphones have a plastic cap, clean them regularly.

Visit the doctor if symptoms of the infection are visible

  • Itching, discharge, soreness in or outside the ear are some of the symptoms of an infection. One must visit a physician if these signs are visible to rule out the infection.
  • Visiting a physician is also necessary in case the infection has already occurred. In this case, preventing the infection to spread becomes essential.

Ear Hygiene is an important aspect of overall hygiene. Following simple tips can prevent long-term medical implications.

About Amrik Singh Arora

Amrik Singh Arora, Founder EarGuru is on a mission to increase awareness of Hearing Health among the masses. Hearing loss is increasing at an alarming rate due to noise pollution and lifestyle activities. He strongly believes that knowledge & awareness is the first step in the prevention of Hearing loss