Student listening with earbuds that may cause ear pain

Originally written August 31, 2021

Everyone likes privacy when listening to something, including the people around you. As listening devices began to switch from earmuff-style headphones to earbuds, it seemed that music and podcast fans had found their solution. Over time, however, you might notice something happening to your ear, but there are ways to get back into the groove.

In This Article...

  1. Problem: Earbuds can lead to ear infections
  2. Problem: Earbuds can create wax buildup
  3. Problem: Earbuds can irritate the skin
  4. Problem: Earbuds can build to hearing issues

Problem: Earbuds can lead to ear infections

Anytime you put something in your ear, you run the risk of infection. Dirt, debris, and foreign objects can enter your ear canal, and coupled with a cut or scrape in your ear can lead to a quick infection. This is especially true with earbuds given how often they’re left out in the open and their tough plastic material.

Solution: Clean your earbuds and the storage case frequently

Problem: Earbuds can create wax buildup

The wonderful thing about ears is that they are self-cleaning. However, that process can be affected when the ear canal is covered for multiple hours in a day through items like earbuds. This prevents wax and moisture from escaping, leading to increased wax buildup that causes muffled hearing and further infections.

Dr. Nicholas Stowell, MD, ENT specialist at our Concord location, has sound advice for those who are looking to prevent ear infections. "Make sure to give your ears a rest from earbuds, take them out every few hours and leave them out for at least 15 minutes to allow your ear canals to ‘breathe’.”

Solution: Reduce your daily usage of earbuds

Problem: Earbuds can irritate the skin

Any ear pain you get from earbuds can come from more than just infections. In fact, it could be a matter of the material and shape itself. Not factoring in the size and shape of your ears could create issues when trying to insert the device, leading to cuts, scrapes, or pressure on the canal and outer ear.

Solution: Properly size your earbuds with removable covers

Problem: Earbuds can build to hearing issues

While there is convenience in having something small to listen through, many people do not consider how loud the volume can get. Listening at high volumes – especially consistently – can lead to tinnitus, muffled hearing, or eventual hearing loss.

Solution: Lower your volume when using the earbuds consistently

Ear pain can take you out of your favorite song, but CEENTA can bring you right back to rhythm. Our ENT specialists in Concord can diagnose and determine what’s causing your ear infection, while our audiologists can make sure that your hearing is clear to the last note. Schedule an appointment with a CEENTA expert like Dr. Stowell at our Concord office today and hear the difference.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor or audiologist, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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