Do not let your child wear earbuds.

The problem with ear buds:
Three weeks ago I took my daughter to the doctor. She was complaining of ear pain and that she couldn’t hear very well. In the two weeks before the visit she’d had the same complaint. I tried to help her by using an over-the-counter ear wax removal kit. This was the second time in the last year that I had to remove impacted ear wax. Although at first it did give her some relief, the problem reoccurred.
I believe the problem was caused by the ear buds that she uses for her phone. She wears these buds almost non-stop. Sun up to sun down. If you see her, you see the wires coming from her ears. I strongly discourage this usage. But at sixteen I am allowing her a little more freedom to make more choices for herself. Her choice – ear buds!
When I tried to remove the ear wax the second time, it only gave her minimal relief. The OTC medication suggested trying the removal for several days. Several days later, she could barely hear out of her ear and the pain was excruciating. I looked at the ear buds in frustration. Now she was only wearing one but she was still using the buds. I took her to the doctor. The doctor confirmed my hunch. Ear buds are a problem. Teens push the buds down into the ear canal. Ear canals were not designed to have things inserted into them. This can lead to impacted wax and directing loud noises into the canal can lead to hearing loss. But her doctor understood my struggle. She told me, her own children insist on wearing the buds. And she has concerns about their long term hearing ability.

What are the dangers:
According to the Whittier Hospital Medical Center’s blog: Earbuds can hurt our ears in 3 ways.
1. They prevent was from secreting out of the ear canal. This causes wax to build up and become impacted.

2. The buds carry dirt and bacteria which can cause ears to become infected.

3. Excessive sound volume can damage the eardrum and the inner ear.

What are the solutions:
1. Try to convince your child to use traditional over the ear earphones. They still pose some concerns, but the danger is less.

2. Reduce or restrict the time that your child can wear earbuds.

3. Teach them to make sure their earbuds are always clean, every time they wear them.

4. Use the phone or device settings to reduce the volume levels.

5. Teach your child what is a normal volume. The setting should not be much higher than conversational speech. If you can hear what they are listening to – it’s too loud.

Would it be easier to just ban all earphones?
Yes, that would be awesome! But very unlikely. Headphone have become a part of our lives. While they may not be particularly healthy they are useful. My children use it to listen to the Quran when they are all studying at the same time. Al hamdulillah, this modern invention allows them to listen and recite with reciters from all over the world. It also allows them to listen to and be entertained by their devices without disturbing other family members. Family members who may be praying or reading the Quran. So, headphones can be beneficial to us as Muslims. They can be used to help us encourage our children in acts of worship. But like everything else – moderation and balance is key.

Let them wear the headphones. Encourage the over-the-ear phones and avoid ear buds. Try to follow the recommendations listed above. Be quick to respond to any symptoms. I waited two weeks before I took her to the doctor. During this time her infection increased in both severity and discomfort. I wish I had at least called the doctor and gotten her advice. I assumed that the problem was impacted wax. But I never imagined that this wax could cause an infection. As parents we have to be vigilant about our children’s health and safety. But we also have to teach our children to be just as vigilant. May Allah protect our children from every possible harm, Ameen.

(Author’s note: this blog is an opinion piece and as such is not a substitute for advice from a licensed professional.)