Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

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True wireless earbuds have recently stolen the spotlight. But there is another breed of specialized wireless earphones gaining traction: bone conduction headphones. While traditional headphones deliver sound through the ear canals. Bone conduction headphones send vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear.

This design can be beneficial for people with hearing impairments. Also. for those who want to keep their ears open to hear ambient noise, while still enjoying music or other audio content. But can this technology pose a risk to your hearing? Let’s explore the possibility.

Bone Conduction Headphones: Quick History

The bone conduction headphone has been around for many years, and they were originally designed for use by people with hearing impairments. The first bone conduction headphone was created in the late 19th century, and they have been used by the military and law enforcement agencies for years.

Consumers may now purchase a bone conduction headphones, a fairly new concept in audio. On the other hand, Bone conduction has a long history of being utilized to help people with specific types of hearing loss. Beethoven himself used this approach when he suffered from hearing problems later age.

However, technology has become more mainstream as companies have started to produce consumer-friendly products.

How Does a Bone Conduction Headphone Work?

How does bone conduction headphones work
Photo Credits: Tech Target

Bone-conduction headphones use an acoustic approach to deliver a unique method of listening to music while still being attentive to your surroundings. Bone-conduction headphones depend on the sound being conveyed by vibrations on the jaw and head bones rather than through air.

These headphones transmit sound straight to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum. For years, BAHA or bone-anchored hearing aids have used this kind of sound transmission to assist persons with hearing impairment.

The process is like how we can hear our voice when we speak or sing. We can feel the vibration of our vocal cords in our skulls, which is how we hear ourselves talk. The same process applies to a bone conduction headphone. Only the vibrations are caused by the music instead of our vocal cords.

When using a bone conduction headphone, you can simultaneously hear both the music and the external environment. A bone conduction headphone, unlike conventional ones, is placed on the outside of the ear. It exposes the ear canal to ambient sounds while sending music from a portable device. Bone conduction makes it a good option for avid walkers, runners, and cyclists who want to enjoy listening to music while remaining alert and aware of what happens around them.

Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

Can Bone Conduction Headphones Cause Hearing Loss?

The most common cause of hearing loss is continuous, long noises, common in work environments where loud and persistent noises such as jackhammers, aircraft engines, and factory machinery are present.

The loud and persistent noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. When these hair cells are damaged, they can no longer send sound signals to the brain, and hearing loss occurs.

There is no evidence that bone conduction headphones could cause hearing loss. However, if the headphones are used excessively and at high volumes, they can potentially damage the hair cells in the inner ear. Bone conduction headphones have several unique benefits, but they may be harmful when used improperly.

Overall, we can say that wearing bone conduction headphones is risk-free. Everything will be FINE as the noise does not surpass the hearing limit. Like any other headphones, if we use them too much, it is possible to lead to hearing loss. Don’t overdo it, and be moderate in everything!

If you’re concerned about the potential risks of using bone conduction headphones, consult with an audiologist to get their professional opinion.

The Cons of a Bone Conduction Headphone

While bone conduction headphones have many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to using this audio technology. Let’s look at some of the potential cons of the bone conduction headphone.

✘They Are Typically Expensive

One of the biggest drawbacks of the bone conduction headphone is that they can be quite expensive. The technology involved in making these types of headphones is still relatively new, so the cost of production is high.

Most consumers will have to pay a premium price for a pair of the bone conduction headphone. It is not a budget-friendly option for most people.

✘Sound Quality Isn’t as Good as Traditional Headphones

While it allows you to hear what is happening around you, it may also be a drawback if sound quality is essential to you. The sound quality of the bone conduction headphone is not as good as traditional headphones.

Since you’ll hear the audio with multiple competing external sounds, these headphones offer lesser sound quality than conventional models by nature. Furthermore, the headphones’ sound quality is lower than standard headphones.

The music can sound tinny or metallic, and it may not be as rich and full as you are used to. If you’re an audiophile, you may want to stick with traditional headphones.

✘It Can Possibly Cause Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Even if we have mentioned that it is not scientifically proven, some people can experience tinnitus or hearing loss after using bone conduction headphones.

While bone conduction headphones do not directly contact the eardrum, they can still harm the inner ear. The sound vibrations can damage the hair cells in the cochlea, which can lead to hearing loss.

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears caused by exposure to loud noises. If you start to experience tinnitus after using bone conduction headphones, it is important to consult with a doctor.

✘Might Irritate Skin Behind the Ears

Another potential drawback of the bone conduction headphone is irritating the skin behind the ears. Since the headphones sit on top of the ear, they can rub against the skin and irritate. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid using these headphones.

✘Headache and Vertigo

It can also lead to headaches and vertigo. The reason behind it is that bone conduction headphones might put pressure on the temporal bones, which can cause pain in the head and dizziness.

If you experience headaches or vertigo after using bone conduction headphones, it is essential to consult with a doctor.

✘Needs Regular Charging

Bone conduction headphones use Bluetooth technology. They need to be regularly charged. If you plan to use them for a long period, you will need to make sure that they are fully charged before you leave the house.

It could be a hassle, and it can also be frustrating if your headphones die in the middle of a workout.

✘Others Might Hear What You’re Listening To

Bone conduction headphones do not go within the ears; others can hear what you listen to. If you’re in a public place and you have your headphones turned up too loud, the people around you will hear your music.

It might be quite annoying for those trying to concentrate or relax. If you’re using your headphones in a public place, it is crucial to consider the people around you.

✘It May Be Uncomfortable for Long Period Usage

Finally, bone conduction headphones might be uncomfortable to use for long periods. Since they sit on top of the ear, they can put pressure on the bones and cartilage in the ear, leading to discomfort. 

If you’re planning on using your headphones for a long time, you may want to consider another type of headphones.

The Pros of a Bone Conduction Headphone

There are many benefits to using bone conduction headphones. Let’s look at some of the pros of this type of audio technology.

✔Ideal for Athletes and People Who Work Outdoors

If you’re an athlete or enjoy working out outdoors, bone conduction headphones might be a great option. Since they allow you to hear your surroundings, you can stay safe while running or biking on the road. You can also listen to music or audiobooks while working out, which can help pass the time.

✔Great for People Who Have Hearing Loss

Bone conduction headphones may help you hear sounds much better if you’re experiencing hearing problems since they bypass the middle and external ear. As a result, if your hearing issues occur in these areas, this design is quite beneficial.

Furthermore, if you use hearing aids, these headphones are excellent since several kinds of aids may be used due to their exceptional design. If you use in-the-ear (ITE) or invisible (IIC) assistive devices, you can easily use bone conduction headphones at the same time.

✔Increase Situational Awareness

Another great benefit of the bone conduction headphone is that they can help you stay aware of your surroundings. If you’re walking or running in the city, it could be helpful to hear the traffic around you.

You can also use them when you are working in a noisy environment. By wearing bone conduction headphones, you could listen to your music or audiobook without blocking out the sounds around you.

✔A Comfortable Fit

The bone conduction headphone is designed to be comfortable to wear. They can be worn for long periods without causing discomfort.

The headphones sit on top of your ears and do not go inside like traditional earbuds. It is a great benefit if your ears are sensitive or you experience pain when wearing earbuds.

✔Lightweight and Portable

A bone conduction headphone is very lightweight and is easily transported. They are an ideal option for people who travel frequently. You can also take them with you to the gym or on a hike. They can be easily packed in a suitcase or a carry-on bag.

✔Don’t Cause Ear-Wax Building up or Ear Infection

Your existing headphones are probably a lot filtier0 than you realize! In reality, the small shells of earbuds may contain many bacteria and germs. Putting these bacteria build up in devices may be very harmful to the ears, causing allergic reactions, rashes, or ear infections.

On the other hand, bone conduction headphones don’t go within the ears, so there is no risk of ear wax infection or buildup. Your ears would be cleaner and healthier than ever with these headphones.

✔Some Offer Waterproof Features

If you’re a swimmer, or if you live in a hot and humid climate, you will be happy to know that some models of the bone conduction headphone are waterproof. It is a great benefit if you like listening to music while swimming or working out in the heat.

It is important to note that not all models of the bone conduction headphone are waterproof. Be sure to check the product description before purchasing to make sure the model you are interested in is waterproof.

✔Excellent Use for Any Professions

Whether you are a delivery person, a construction worker, or a doctor, many professions can benefit from bone conduction headphones. If you need to stay aware of your surroundings while working, these headphones can be a great option.

You can also use them if you need to wear a hard hat or a mask. Bone conduction headphones might be worn with any safety equipment.

✔Some Models Come With a Microphone

If you need to take phone calls while working, some models of the bone conduction headphone come with a microphone. It is great if you need to stay in touch with clients or customers.

You can also use the microphone to record audio for work or personal use. Be sure to check the product description before purchasing to see if the model you are interested in comes with a microphone.

How to Protect Your Hearing with Bone Conduction Headphones

If you’re concerned about the potential risk of hearing loss from using bone conduction headphones, there are some steps you can take to protect your ears.

  • First, be sure to use the headphones at a moderate volume. You should not have to increase the volume to hear the audio.
  • Second, take breaks from using the headphones every few hours. It will give your ears a chance to rest and recover.
  • Third, if you experience any pain or discomfort in your ears after using the headphones, be sure to stop using them immediately.
  • Fourth, consult with a doctor for any concerns about using bone conduction headphones.

Bone Conduction Buying Guide: Features to Consider

Now that you know some of the benefits of a bone conduction headphone, you may be wondering how to choose the right pair for you. Here are some features to consider when you are making your purchase:

►Design and Comfort 

The first thing you should consider is the design and comfort of the headphones. Make sure that the headphones are designed to be comfortable to wear. You should also make sure that they are lightweight and easy to transport. Some models come with different-sized ear pads so that you can find the perfect fit.

►Durability 

Bone conduction comes with different durability. If you’re looking for headphones that will last a long time, choose a pair made with a material such as stainless steel or titanium. These headphones sit on top of your ears. They can be more durable than traditional earbuds.

►Water Resistance (IPxx) 

In terms of water resistance, it will depend heavily on your usage and the weather conditions in the area where you would utilize them. If you live somewhere with a lot of rain, you should seek a device with a higher IPxx certification for water protection.

There are just a few options that are completely waterproof and designed for use in the water if you want to use them while swimming.

►Battery Life 

The battery life of the bone conduction headphone might vary greatly. Some models can last for up to eight hours, while others may only last for two or three hours. It is essential to consider how long you will need the headphones to last before recharging them.

If you’re looking for headphones that you can use all day, you should choose a model with long battery life.

►Connection Type 

There are two main connections for bone conduction headphones: Bluetooth and wired. Bluetooth headphones are more convenient because they can be used without any wires. However, wired headphones generally have better sound quality.

If you’re looking for headphones to use while working out, Bluetooth may be the best option. If you’re looking for headphones to listen to your favorite music or take phone calls, wired may be the better option.

►Price

Bone conduction headphones could range in price from $50 to $200. The price will depend on the features that you are looking for. If you need headphones with long battery life or a waterproof design, you can expect to pay more.

When you are considering the price, be sure to compare the features of each model to find the best value for your money.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Bone Conduction Headphones More Safer Than Traditional Headphones?

Bone conduction headphones aren’t any safer than traditional headphones or more harmful. Consumers’ headphones brands engage in a lot of deceptive marketing. They say that because bone conduction headphones transfer sound without damaging the eardrum, users may listen to music without causing ear damage. This is absolutely not the case.

Eardrums cannot be perforated or damaged by using headphones. No matter how loud it is, the sound just does not have the requisite impact to perforate the eardrum. It is the cochlear, though, that we must be worried about.

If you wear traditional headphones or bone conduction headphones at an overly high volume, they may harm your cochlea. Long-term exposure to loud sounds may lead to progressive hearing impairment that goes unnoticed until it becomes a serious issue.

2. Can I use bone conduction headphones with earplugs? 

Yes. You can use bone conduction headphones with earplugs. In fact, we recommend that you do so if you’re in a noisy environment. By using earplugs, you can protect your ears from the damage caused by external noise sources while still enjoying the benefits of bone conduction technology.

3. Do I need to be concerned about EMF radiation with bone conduction headphones? 

You don’t need to be concerned with  EMF radiation with bone conduction headphones. The amount of EMF radiation emitted by these devices is very low and poses no health risks.

4. Is bone conduction technology worth the money?

 It depends on your needs. Bone conduction technology is great for hard of hearing or deaf people because it transmits sound directly to the cochlea, bypassing the eardrum. It is a great option for people who want to hear their music clearly without having to turn up the volume and damage their hearing.

However, it’s not necessary for everyone. Some people find that they can hear better with traditional headphones because they can better customize the sound to their own ears. So it depends on your individual needs and preferences.

5. Do you hear better with a bone conduction headphone?

The bone conduction headphone uses vibrations to transmit sound to the inner ear. This technology has been used to help people with hearing impairments hear better. Bone conduction headphones could be used for two main purposes: 1) To improve hearing in noisy environments and 2) To improve listening in general. 

If you have ever been to a live concert, you may have noticed that the music is incredibly loud. It is because sound waves travel through the air and bounce off of surfaces, making it difficult to hear clearly. Bone conduction headphones solve this problem by sending vibrations directly to the inner ear, bypassing the outer ear (and all of the noise that comes with it).

6. Do bone conduction headphones harm your hearing?

There is some concern that using bone conduction headphones for extended periods of time could damage your hearing, but there is no real evidence to support this claim. Some experts believe that the sound delivered through bone conduction headphones is not intense enough to cause any long-term damage to your hearing.

However, it’s always a good idea to take breaks from any headphone use, just to be safe. Listen to lower volumes and give your ears a rest now and then!

7. Is it possible that bone conduction headphones give you a headache?

Yes, bone conduction headphones might possibly give you a headache. When the sound waves travel through your bones, they can cause tiny vibrations in your skull that can lead to discomfort or pain. For other people, these vibrations can also cause a feeling of pressure or fullness in the head.

If you experience these symptoms after using bone conduction headphones, try adjusting the position of the headphones or lowering the volume. You may also want to try a different type of headphones altogether.

Final Thoughts

The bone conduction headphone is an excellent technology that can help people with hearing impairments hear better. However, it’s important to remember that this type of headphone is not for everyone. If you’re concerned about the potential risks of using bone conduction headphones, be sure to talk to your doctor or audiologist before making a purchase.

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