AirPods and Headaches: The Connection

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AirPods have become increasingly popular in the past few years. They’re regarded by many as a more practical alternative to over-ear headphones and earbuds with a wired design.

Do AirPods cause headaches?

There is a possibility that AirPods could cause headaches for certain people. This is most likely to occur if the AirPods are pushed too far into the ear, or if the ear tips are not a suitable fit. These scenarios could cause discomfort which may develop into a headache.

Some people have voiced their concerns over wireless earbud devices like AirPods, as they believe that Bluetooth radiation could be causing headaches or other health problems for people.

In reality, a smartphone gives off significantly more radiation than AirPods, so it’s unlikely that this is the cause of your headaches.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how AirPods could potentially cause headaches and whether you can prevent them from happening.

Can Wearing AirPods Too Much Cause Headaches?

If you’re experiencing headaches or any discomfort when using AirPods, this is a sign that you might be overusing them. AirPods are, on the whole, very safe, but if they are used too frequently there’s a chance that they will cause headaches.

Several variables also need to be considered to determine whether wearing your AirPods too much is causing headaches. These are:

  • The average volume of your AirPods
  • How your AirPods fit in your ears
  • Whether you are taking regular breaks from using AirPods

If your AirPods don’t fit inside your ears comfortably, then wearing them for a prolonged period is likely to cause discomfort which could lead to a headache, earache, or some other issue.

AirPods Pro owners can experiment with the different sizes of ear tips thanks to the removable design, but unfortunately, this feature has not been included on any other AirPods, including the 3rd Generation models.

If you use AirPods Pro and you find the regular ear tips that come with them to be too tight, you could try using the smaller ear tips and see whether this improves their comfortability.

Listening to audio in AirPods for long periods should be avoided, particularly at higher volumes. Your smartphone or other preferred audio devices should warn you when you’ve exceeded the recommended volume level, so it’s a good idea to stick within those boundaries.

It is also advisable to take regular breaks when using AirPods. 90 minutes of daily use is recommended, but you may need to reduce this if you experience headaches or other forms of discomfort.

If your headaches are occurring when you’ve been using your AirPods for a prolonged period, it’s probably a good idea to use them less for a few days and see whether this prevents the headaches.

What Are the Side Effects of AirPods?

AirPods are wireless earbuds, and therefore they use Bluetooth to connect to other devices. You may have heard speculation that Bluetooth could be harmful to humans, but it has a very low specific absorption rate which is solid enough evidence for its safety.

Some people may experience “side effects” from using AirPods, but this is likely linked to overuse, or listening to audio at loud volumes. For the most part, AirPods can be used without any negative repercussions – if they are used responsibly.

The most common side effects of using AirPods include soreness inside the ears and tinnitus. The former is caused by the ear tips not fitting in the user’s ear very well, and the latter is a result of listening at loud volumes regularly.

Providing the user ensures that they choose a particular AirPods model that fits their ears well, they shouldn’t experience soreness after wearing them. Unfortunately, only the AirPods Pro has removable ear tips available in different sizes.

Tinnitus can often be the result of listening to music too loudly through headphones or earbuds, like AirPods. It’s essential to avoid setting the volume too loud to minimize the risk of damage to your ears.

How Safe are AirPods?

AirPods and wireless Bluetooth earbuds are relatively new technology, so it’s only natural that some people would be concerned over their long-term safety. Scientists have done extensive research on this subject, and have found no evidence to suggest that AirPods are a hazard to human health.

Nevertheless, using AirPods irresponsibly will compromise their safety. If you turn the volume up to the maximum level, you’ll be running the risk of damaging your ears permanently.

It’s easy to increase the volume of AirPods when there is a lot of background noise, and you might not even realize how loud you have set the level to. That’s why it’s always important to check the visual volume meter on your iPhone or any other device you use with your AirPods when in a noisy environment.

You can see from the table below that some AirPods (Pro and Max) have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Transparency modes, which are useful when you’re using them in a place with a lot of background noise to contend with.

AirPods ModelTypeActive Noise CancellationTransparency ModeSpatial AudioEar Tip Sizes
1st GenerationIn-earNoNoNoOne size
2nd GenerationIn-earNoNoNoOne size
3rd GenerationIn-earNoNoYesOne size
AirPods ProIn-earYesYesYesThree sizes
AirPods MaxOver-earYesYesYesN/A
Airpods comparison table

ANC uses inbuilt microphones to detect the frequencies of background noises and then reduces their volume using phase cancellation, allowing you to focus on the audio coming through the AirPods without getting distracted.

Transparency mode makes AirPods safer by allowing you to let more external sounds into your ears so that you can be more aware of what is going on around you.

This addresses one of the key concerns about AirPods and similar earbud-style devices – the danger of not being fully aware of your surroundings when using them. This can be especially dangerous when near traffic, in a busy public space, or while cycling.

AirPods users should make sure that they can hear the background sounds over the audio coming through their earbuds at all times, otherwise, they risk putting themselves in danger. Overall, if AirPods are used responsibly then evidence suggests they’re very safe.

Check out this YouTube video that shows tips and tricks on how to use AirPods features.

Are In-Ear Headphones Worse Than Over-Ear for Hearing Damage?

There has long been a debate over whether in-ear or over-ear headphones pose a greater risk to users’ hearing. The reason it’s difficult to give a definitive answer is that there are so many variables that come into play.

If a person uses in-ear headphones, like AirPods, that are the perfect size for their ears, and they always check that the volume doesn’t exceed the recommended level, then the risk of hearing damage is going to be very minimal.

Similarly, a set of over-ear headphones that are ideally sized for the listener’s head shape and dimensions used at a sensible volume shouldn’t result in any harm to their ears.

With that being said, the in-ear or over-ear design does make a difference to the safety of headphones. Over-ear headphones have cushioned pads which create some separation between the inbuilt speaker and the inner ear of the listener. In-ear headphones lack any separation.

The obvious concern is that when earbuds are worn, the speaker is positioned very close to the sensitive inner ear of the listener.

If you’ve ever been in a loud situation such as a party, nightclub or gig and someone has come very close to your ear when talking to you, you’ll know that this can be very uncomfortable and even cause sudden ear pain if they shout loudly.

This is because the sound pressure is too much for your inner ear to handle, and the same can happen if audio is played too loud through in-ear headphones.

The physical designs of in-ear and over-ear headphones mean that the former is simply less safe because there’s a greater risk of loud noises being played from a very close distance to the user’s ear.

Over-ear headphones create more space between the speaker and the ear, which minimizes the risk of hearing damage.

Related Questions

Can AirPods cause ear infections?

If you wear AirPods for too long, there is a chance that wax and debris could build up inside the ear. This may lead to ear infections, particularly if the AirPods are not regularly cleaned. Avoiding overusing AirPods will minimize the risk of ear infection.

Do AirPods cause tinnitus?

There is nothing about AirPods that inherently causes tinnitus, but if they are used incorrectly then it certainly can happen. Listening to audio at safe volumes and taking regular breaks from using AirPods will reduce the risk of tinnitus dramatically.

How loud is too loud for AirPods?

Listening to AirPods at a volume that exceeds 85 dB is considered too loud by health experts. It is recommended that you listen at this volume for no more than 2 hours per day or 5 hours at 80 dB.

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