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Earbuds: Not your ears' best buds after all

For many, listening to music during a workout is a must. It provides motivation, and even distraction from that little voice inside saying, "Stop! I'm tired!" However, those earbuds aren't doing your ears any favors.

Earbuds trap sweat and moisture in your ears. Ears self-clean with ear wax, and each time you put in your earbuds, you're pushing back the wax. The wax can build up in your ear canal, potentially causing blockages or impacted ear wax.   

Earbuds can increase ear wax build up. Even though our ears are self-cleaning, if we block the canal for multiple hours a day, the wax will not be able to work itself out of the ear. Sometimes, this forms a large plug of earwax, and your earbuds can push the wax deeper, causing trauma to the ear and ear pain.

In addition to leaving your ears vulnerable to infection, the main issue with earbuds is that they blast music directly in your ear canals. With extended listening, you increase your risk of developing hearing problems.  

There are some simple solutions. 

  1. Give your ears a chance to breath. When you can, watch the overhead TV that some gyms have, read a magazine while on exercise machines, try a workout class or use over-the-ear headphones when possible. Spending less time with earbuds in reduces the risk of damaging your ears.
  2. How many times have you cleaned your earbuds? If you're like most people, the answer is somewhere between, "Wait, I should be cleaning my earbuds?" and never. Cleaning your earbuds on a regular basis gets rid of the bacteria, dirt and germs earbuds can introduce. Simply drop the silicone tips into warm water with a few drops of dish soap and wipe each fold with a soft cloth. Using a dry toothbrush (unused, of course), gently clean the shell of the earbud itself. Let the silicone tips dry completely before placing back on the ear buds.


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