Earphones, headphones, and earbuds are all necessary accessories that come with great convenience. These come in handy for trips, exercising, studying, listening to music and to simply zone out and cancel noise around you.
But is it safe to have these earphones plugged into your ears 24/7?
Despite the convenience they may bring, unfortunately, you run the risk of ear damage in the long run. Here’s why.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, sound is measured in decibels, and one of the important things to note when considering headphone use is that personal listening devices are tuned to a maximum volume of around 105 to 110 dB.
Exposure to sound levels above 85 dB (equal to a lawnmower) can cause possible ear damage with exposure of more than two hours, while exposure to the sound of 105 to 110 dB can cause damage in five minutes.
Sound and hearing loss
There are thousands of cells in the ears, some of which have little hair-like structures called hair cells that are responsible for transmitting sound from the ears back to the brain, where it is further processed.
Excess sound can cause permanent damage to these cells, which interrupts the mechanism of sound transmission. Damage may also happen via the connection between the hair cells and nerve cells, which can be interrupted by an excess sound, even if the hair cells remain normal, reports the Harvard Medical School.
Together with these, here are other problems you may face with long-wear of earphones:
Loud noise can lead to increased pressure in the ear canal, and this can cause dizziness.
Hair cells tend to lose their sensitivity to vibration, and they bend down too much. This causes temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Earphones can block the air passage, and this could lead to bacteria growth over time. This growth can also stay on the earphones. To be extra safe, avoid sharing earphones as the same bacteria will be transferred from your ear to the person you share the earphones with. This could lead to a serious ear infection.
Using poorly fitted earphones for long periods can cause pain and soreness in the inner ear.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
NIHL may develop from loud noise and using earphones for a long time.
Loud noise can damage the hair cells in your cochlea causing a roaring or ringing noise in the ear or even head. This noise is called tinnitus.
Those who suffer from tinnitus are susceptible to develop high sensitivity even to normal environmental sounds. This sound intolerance is called hyperacusis.
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Collecting your personal information
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• personalising the Service to your respective preferences;
• for the serving of appropriate, tailored advertising to you via the Service;
• for the purpose of tracking the Service's performance;
• troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement and/or to identify any technical issues that may occur from time to time;
• for use in devising additional enhancements or improvements to the Service; and
• statistical tracking, redundancy and audit purposes.
c. The above data will not be shared with other users of the Service. However, Vodacom further may collect your information in terms of clause 9 (h) and (i) below.
d. We may also collect information about you from other organisations, if this is appropriate. These include fraud-prevention agencies, business directories and credit reference agencies. We may also collect information about you from other companies, our business, or joint venture partners.
Understanding what you want
f. This, in turn, helps us make our website relevant to your interests and needs. We may use a persistent cookie (a cookie that stays linked to your browser) to record your details so we can recognise you if you visit our website again. See the next section for more details.
The personal information we collect
h. The information we collect about you depends on the Vodacom and Vodafone products and services you use and subscribe to. It may include (but is not limited to) the following:
i. your name, age group home language;
ii. your preferences for particular products, services or lifestyle activities when you tell us what they are – or when we assume what they are, depending on how you use our products and services;
iii. your contact with us – such as a note or recording of a call you make to one of our contact centres, an email or letter you send to us or other records of any contact you have with us;
iv. your account information – such as phone number, handset type, handset model,, whether you are a post or prepaid customer, dates of payment owed and received, TopUp information, the subscription services you use or any other information related to your account.
i. We will also get information on how you use our products and services, such as:
i. Where applicable, the phone numbers that you call or send messages to (or the phone numbers that you receive these calls and messages from);
ii. the date, time and length of the calls and messages you send or receive through our network, and your approximate location at the time these communications take place;
iii. the level of service you receive – for example, network faults and other network events which may affect our network services;
iv. your website browsing information (which includes information about the websites you visit, and about how you use our website or other Vodafone Group websites on your mobile or a PC;
v. the date, time and length of your internet browsing, and your approximate location at the time of browsing;
vi. your brand preference, preferred video categories, related preferences (e.g. team choice); and type of services you typically access.
Using your personal information
j. We may use and analyse your information to:
i. process the goods and services you have bought from us, and keep you updated with your order progress;
ii. keep you informed generally about new products and services (unless you choose not to receive our marketing messages);
iii. provide the relevant service or product to you. This includes other services not included in this terms and conditions, and services that use information about where you are when using your mobile equipment (location information) and to contact you with messages about changes to the service or product;
iv. you with offers or promotions based on how you use our products and services. These include your calling and messaging activities, location information and browsing information (unless you choose not to receive these messages – see below on 'How to opt-out';
v. send you targeted and relevant messages, based on your behaviour, permission and preferences. From time to time, we will send you a range of different messages, from Vodacom as well as brands, to keep you informed or simply for you to tell us what you are into. These are not just offers and promotions but messages from your favourite brands including new products, discounts, limited offers, gifts and more. It works by using information about you to send you targeted messages relevant to you;
vi. bill you for using any additional products or services, or to take the appropriate amount of credit from you;
vii. respond to any questions or concerns you may have about using the Service, our network, products or services;
viii. let you know about other companies' products and services we think may interest you (including offers and discounts we've specially negotiated for our customers);
ix. protect our network and manage the volume of calls, texts and other use of our network. For example, we identify peak periods of use so we can try and ensure the network can handle the volume at those times
x. understand how you use this Service, our network, products and services. That way, we can develop more interesting and relevant products and services, as well as personalising the products and services we offer you;
xi. carry out research and statistical analysis including to monitor how customers use this Service, our network, products and services on an anonymous or personal basis;
xii. prevent and detect fraud or other crimes, recover debts or trace those who owe us money;
xiii. provide aggregated reports to third parties (such reports do not contain any information which may identify you as an individual).
k. The information we use will be your approximate location, based on the nearest mobile cell site. As a result, this will change as you move around with your mobile phone.
l. We will store your information for as long as we have to by law. If there is no legal requirement, we will only store it for as long as we need it.
Sharing your personal information
m. We may share information about you with:
i. companies in the Vodacom and Vodafone Group (Vodafone Group Plc and any company or other organisation in which Vodacom owns more than 15% of the share capital);
ii. Mondia Media, partners or agents involved in delivering the Services;
iii. companies who are engaged to perform the Service for, on behalf of Vodacom (Pty) Ltd including Mondia Media (Pty) Ltd;
iv. where applicable, credit reference, fraud prevention or business scoring agencies, or other credit scoring agencies;
v. where applicable, debt collection agencies or other debt recovery organisations;
vi. law enforcement agencies, regulatory organisations, courts or other public authorities if we have to, or are authorised to by law;
vii. emergency services (if you make an emergency call), including your approximate location.
n. We will release information if it's reasonable for the purpose of protecting us against fraud, defending our rights or property, or to protect the interests of our customers.
o. If we are reorganised or sold to another organisation, we may transfer any personal information we hold about you to that organisation.
p. We will transfer your information to Mondia Media our service provider. Mondia Media servers are based outside South Africa in Germany where adequate data protection laws exist to protect the privacy and security of your information. We have also signed a contract with Mondia Media with data protection provisions to ensure the security and protection of the privacy of your information.
q. At your option, we may also share your information with partner organisations we've chosen carefully, so they can contact you about their products and services.
Keeping your personal information secure
r. We have specialised security teams who constantly review and improve our measures to protect your personal information from unauthorised access, accidental loss, disclosure or destruction.
s. If we have a contract with another organisation to provide us with services or a service on our behalf to process your personal information, we will make sure they have appropriate security measures and only process your information in the way we've authorised them to. These organisations will not be entitled to use your personal information for their own purposes. If necessary, our security teams will check them to make sure they meet the security requirements we have set.
t. Communications over the internet (such as emails) are not secure unless they have been encrypted. Your communications may go through a number of countries before being delivered – as this is the nature of the internet. We cannot accept responsibility for any unauthorised access or loss of personal information that's beyond our control.
How to opt-out
u. If you want to opt out of Mum & Baby notifications, alerts or messages, you may do so via the relevant prompts through the short code *117*6862# or by visiting https://mumandbaby.vodacom.co.za. You can choose to opt out of partner communications by sending an SMS with STOP to 30881.