Do Headphones Cause Ear Infections [Scientifically Proven Answer]

Have you ever felt a sharp pain or numbness after having headphones on for hours without any break? Or have you ever had the yearning to scratch your ear only to find your finger covered with a sticky fluid? It is true that we all have a special place in our hearts and lives for our headphones and earbuds, but at times we are forced to question their need in our life. 

It is impossible to imagine a life where you do not use your headphones. They truly are the one true companion that is there with you whether you hit the gym or attend a meeting. As much as we use our headphones, it is important that we regulate the way we use them. This becomes important to keep our ears safe from cuts, irregular itches, and infections. 

As you read on, you will find out can an ear infection due to headphones take place. And if yes, what are the ways that can improve the use of headphones?

ear infection due to headphones

What causes ear infections?

Ear Infections are really nasty and hurt until they are treated properly. They can stop anyone from carrying on with their usual activities. It becomes harder to sleep or even concentrate due to excessive pain. Ear Infections might seem like a small problem, but it is important to take care of the infection in time. 

However, before you are able to take care of the infection on your own or seek professional help, it is important that you understand what causes ear infections and can headphones cause ear infections or not. As you read on, you will find scientific causes of ear infections. Hopefully, by reading what causes an infection, you can take care of yourself and stop it from ever happening in the first place. As you read on, you will find the causes of ear infections. 


Science explains that earwax is extremely important for us to have healthy ears. The wax coating allows the ear to naturally stop any foreign contaminants into the ear canal. But the natural slow development of wax is disturbed when earbuds block the canal. This forces additional wax to get scooped inwards to your ear, ultimately creating moisture for your eardrum and leaving the rest of the ear prone to infection. 

The buildup of earwax not only opens the user up to the possibility of infection but can also lead to temporary hearing loss or a disorder.


Inserting your earbuds in and out of your ears continually can cause scrapes or breaks in the skin. This is dangerous as the inner ear is left exposed to moisture and bacteria, which may be the foundation for ear infections due to headphones

Moisture and Bacteria

The inner part of your ear is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. As it is difficult for light to reach into the ear, the bacteria are already building up. At this time, using earphones introduces additional bacteria to the ear leading to an infection.

Can Headphones cause ear infections?

It is true that headphones can cause ear infections, but this is only when they are used without caution. The use of headphones or earbuds should be regulated, as only using them improperly will result in an ear infection.

Headphones can cause ear infections; however, the chances are very unlikely. A recent study by surveyors reached the outcome that there is a 3% chance of users finding themselves with a chronic ear infection due to the use of headphones. These people were all professionals and spent long hours a day wearing headphones. 

The studies clearly concluded with results that using headphones does not cause ear infections. But rather, using headphones or earbuds harshly or not cleaning them regularly causes ear infections.

Can Headphones cause ear infections

Why does it hurt when using headphones?

Using headphones or earbuds for long periods of time can cause you pain. Mostly when using earbuds, you are inserting the tips of the earbuds deep into your ear. This leads to you forcing the earbud in to provide a good seal. Even if you are gentle with inserting the buds in, there is a high possibility that you will pull them out once you are done. An average user wears and removes their earbuds at least a few times each day. This could lead to damaging inner ears through a scratch or irritated skin.

Steps to reduce ear infection due to headphones

There are ways that you can use headphones as much as you wish without having to worry about ear infections. Keeping yourself safe from such infections is as easy as washing hands after you have been to the restroom. You can follow these tips and tricks to stay healthy and continue using your favorite pair of headphones. 

  1. Never Share

This rule should be followed just like the one about your toothbrush. You should never be sharing your headphones or earbuds with anyone. The inner ear canal is home to many bacteria, which can get transferred upon sharing earbuds or headphones. Not sharing headphones can allow you to save yourself from an ear infection. 

  1. Take breaks

Using the headphone for an excessive amount of time can result in a block of air in the ear. It is essential for air to flow inside the ear. This allows excess moisture to escape. Many people have earbuds on when leaving the house or driving. This can be dangerous for your ears and for yourself while driving. If you wish to listen to music while driving and give your ears time to breathe, you can always use the built-in speakers. 

If you are looking for laws on whether you should be wearing earbuds while driving, you can easily find all the information here. Can your wear earbuds while driving?

  1. Regular cleansing

Cleaning your headphones is extremely necessary to reduce the probability of ear infections. Having headphones or earbuds on means that you have a lot of bacteria or wax on your headphones. You can use alcohol wipes to clean your earbuds. Not only should you be cleaning your headphones, but you should also be cleaning your ears. Use a damp cloth to clean the outer ear, while ear wax softener can help break down wax accumulated in the ear canal. After this practice, you will never have to worry, do headphones cause ear infections or not.

Regular cleansing


It is entirely possible that you could get an ear infection due to using headphones. But that is not due to using headphones, but rather how you use them. Headphones on their own could not cause an ear infection. However, the bacteria and the dirt can cause an infection. Headphones are nothing more than a medium, which, if not used correctly, can cause ear infections. With the information above, you can make sure that you are using the headphones properly and avoid ear infections. However, if you are concerned about whether the loud volume can hurt your hearing, you should read, Is Bass Bad for Your Ears? The Expert Opinion.

Photo of author

Atakan Kara

I am addicted to music. This is not a problem, per se, but it can be hard to keep your music addiction in check when you don’t have the right tools. A good headset is key, and that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing my experiences through this website.

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