28th April 2021
Doctors say prolonged earphone usage can cause permanent ear damage and lessen hearing abilities
Tanya Saha, a student had been complaining of severe ear pain soon after her online classes started. “I couldn’t sleep, move my jaws or even talk, that’s how bad the pain was,” she said. After consulting an ENT specialist, Tanya’s found out that her pain was caused due to the prolonged usage of earphones. â€œI Please check? had seven to eight hours of online classes, I had to put on earphones,” she said.
Bangalore saw a rise in ear infections due to the overuse of earphones during the lockdown in 2020. ENT specialists said that almost 70 per cent of their patients were coming for ear infections caused due to prolonged usage of earphones. The National Family and Health Survey of India showed that there has been a 25 per cent increase in ear infections in 2020 as compared to 2019 in India. Tanya had to take antibiotics to reduce the pain. “The doctor gave me medicines, but after I stopped them the pain returned. Now I hardly use earphones,” she said.
ENT specialists said that 80 per cent of their patients are from the IT sector or students who are doing online classes.
Dr Shanta Das, an ENT specialist said that one of the most common ear infections is Otitis external. It causes inflammation or boils in the ear which makes the ear canal vulnerable. ENT specialists said that while per cent of patients recover in a few weeks, while 40 per cent of them take months to recover. Some of the patients can also have permanent ear damage.
Dr Das said that people who are obese and have diabetes are more likely to get this infection.” Mainly the people are coming with severe ear pain. It is disturbing their sleep. It may be a bacterial infection or a fungal infection. The humidity increases and the bacteria start growing due to earphone usage,” she said.
ENT specialists said that another issue that occurs with excessive earphone usage is that the volume levels are too high. Due to this, some people are unable to hear soft sounds. It can lead to permeant hearing loss as well. Using excessive earphones blocks the ear for long durations which makes the passage of air difficult. This traps the bacteria and virus inside the ear canal causing infections. The dirt on the earphones can also cause infections.
Tirthankar Guha, Medical college professor, KPC college, said that people need to sanitise their phones more often. “If they have to use earphones, then use two sets. One when is in the other can be cleaned with a sanitiser. So every one hour you can change that,” he said. He also added that earphones should be used at the lowest volume possible.
Experts said if people are not more careful then they can have sensory neural damage. Hence, people need to limit their usage of earphones to prevent severe damages to their ear.