Do bone conduction headphones really affect hearing?

If you wear headphones to listen to music for a long time, it is best to use bone conduction headphones so that your hearing will not be affected.

This reminder may have been heard several times. Whether wired or wireless, headphones have become a part of life today, and it has also raised many health questions, such as whether long-term use of bone conduction headphones will affect hearing?

The answer is yes.

The difference between bone conduction earphones and ordinary earphones is in the way of conduction. Eventually, the sound will enter the ear. Long-term wearing and excessive volume may damage hearing.

What is the difference between bone conduction headphones?
Whether it is in-ear, earbud or headphone, the sound unit of ordinary earphones is directed towards the ear. The sound waves pass through the ear canal to the eardrum through air vibration, and then turn into nerve signals and transmit to the brain, which is the sound we hear.

Bone conduction earphones conduct sound differently from ordinary earphones. Bone conduction earphones are worn outside the ear. The sound of the sound unit reaches the cochlea through the skin, the jawbone next to the teeth or the skull, and then is converted into nerve signals and transmitted to the brain. Therefore, the sound transmission process of bone conduction headphones does not pass through structures such as the eardrum.

But the fact that the sound does not pass through the eardrum does not mean that bone conduction headphones will not affect hearing. Bone conduction earphones must pass near the cochlea when transmitting sound. The cochlea has a large number of ear hair cells, which are responsible for converting vibrations into neural signals, which are analyzed by the brain before “hearing” the sound. High volume output for a long time will accelerate the death of ear hair cells. Since these cells cannot be regenerated, too much death will damage hearing. Over time, hearing will only get worse.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even lists damage to the structural cells of the cochlea as one of the leading causes of hearing damage. According to the ISO 1999~2013 “Acoustics – Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Estimation”, when the noise exceeds 85 decibels, the possibility of hearing damage is significantly increased, and the decoration noise often exceeds the standard.

In particular, sound conduction is one of the advantages of bone conduction headphones, but volume control is a weakness. Ordinary in-ear headphones directly enter the ear canal, the sound source is closer, and it can also block some external noise. The open wearing of bone conduction earphones allows ambient sound and earphone sound to enter the ear at the same time. In order to hear music or calls clearly, the volume will be increased unconsciously, which can easily exceed the standard line and greatly increase the risk of hearing damage.

Another frequently mentioned feature of bone conduction headphones is wearing comfort. Open wearing will not produce obvious foreign body sensation. In addition, many bone conduction headphones have worked hard on the external materials, using skin-friendly anti-sweat materials to improve comfort. It’s just not necessarily suitable for everyone, because everyone’s ear shape is different.

The bone conduction earphone has a special structure and is fixed around the outer ear. The unit is often close to the temple. If you wear it for a long time, someone may not adapt to it or the pressure on the temple will be too large and cause dizziness. Maintaining good wearing habits, not using for a long time, and turning down the volume are always the most important ways to protect your hearing.

Bone conduction earphones are auxiliary to ordinary earphones
Bone conduction headphones do have their limitations, but they still have many advantages when used correctly. Ordinary earplugs and in-ear headphones can easily cause ear itching, etc., due to long-term use of headphones to plug the ear canal, and the accumulation of earwax for a long time may cause allergies or bacterial infections, and even inflammation in severe cases.

The structure of each person’s ear canal is different. The shape of the earphone is almost fixed. At most, the size of the earplug can only be adjusted. Many people have different ear structures, which will cause pain when wearing them for a long time. Bone conduction headphones do not need to enter the ear canal, naturally there are no such problems, and open wearing will not make people miss important sounds in the environment, such as the boss’s concern.

Of course, the open type will allow people around you to hear the sound of the headphones, so it is recommended to turn down the volume. If you feel uncomfortable with in-ear or earplugs, you can try bone conduction headphones. If you don’t feel dizzy after wearing them for a long time and listening to music, it means your body can adapt to bone conduction.

For wearable devices that are in direct contact with the body, the best choice for headphones is to experience it in person. Another advantage that bone conduction headphones often mention is that they are suitable for exercisers. Bone conduction headphones can directly hear the ambient sound, and can observe the sound of cars and bicycles when running outdoors, making sports safer.

Some bone conduction headphones are also waterproof, so you can wear them when swimming or even diving. The most famous advantage of bone conduction headphones is that some hearing-impaired people can hear “clear” sound again. Bone conduction headphones skip the eardrum, etc. If the skipping part is damaged, the sound can still be transmitted to the cochlea through the skull and other bone structures, allowing people to hear the sound.

Bone conduction earphones are more like the auxiliary equipment of ordinary earphones. If your body is not suitable for ordinary earphones, you can try it and make adjustments. Final summary:

  • Bone conduction headphones cannot absolutely guarantee that they will not damage your hearing. If you feel dizzy, please disable them first.
  • Correct usage habits are the most important way to protect your hearing, reduce listening to music at high volume for a long time, and the actual application can refer to the “60-60 principle”, the volume is lower than 60%, and the wearing time should not exceed 60 minutes.
  • In outdoor sports, swimming and other scenarios that require attention to ambient sound, bone conduction headphones do have advantages.

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