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Headphones That Don’t Hurt Ears, How, Why, and Which Types

According to recent research by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), as many as 1 in 5 people experience discomfort when using headphones.


The most common complaints are pain in or around the ear, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).


Headphone-related pain is often caused by incorrect fit, earbud design, or extended use.


So join our headphone experts here at Dormiphones who know a thing a two about the most comfortable earphones and discover more about headphones that don't hurt your ears!


So here's the mini answer first before we look in more detail about headphones that don't hurt your ears.


In a nutshell, earphones that don't hurt your ears should be the right size for your ear comfortable and not too tight, padded (for on-ear and over-ear headphones), soft and flexible (for in-ear headphones), or headband style made from quality materials.


Ok so now with the short answer in place so you can understand a little more easily about headphones that don't hurt ears let's start with finding out WHY headphones might be causing pain.

Why do my headphones hurt my ears?

There are a few reasons why headphones might hurt your ears.


It could be that they’re the wrong size for your ear, or they’re not padded (for on-ear and over-ear headphones), soft and flexible (for in-ear headphones), or a headband style made from quality materials.


It could also be that you’re wearing them for too long, or at too high of a volume.


If you have any of these symptoms, your headphones are likely hurting your ears:


  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Fatigue


If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to take a break from using your headphones and consult a doctor if the pain persists.

What does science say?

If we want to get into the science of why headphones hurt your ears, it’s likely because they’re vibrating your eardrums.


Headphones that sit on or in your ear create vibrations, and when these vibrations are amplified by the music playing through them, they can cause pain.


Scientifically, the pain comes from your cochlea, which is the part of your inner ear that processes sound waves.


Headphones can damage your cochlea by overloading it with too much sound pressure.


“If we want to get into the science of why headphones hurt

your ears, it’s likely because they’re vibrating your eardrums.”


Can headphones cause tinnitus?

Yes, headphones can cause tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition where you hear ringing or buzzing in your ears when there is no external source of the sound.


Headphones can damage the delicate hair cells in your inner ear, which can lead to tinnitus. If you already have tinnitus, wearing headphones may make it worse.


For more information head over to our other useful article Do Sleep Headphones Help Tinnitus? Yes! With Other Options.

How can I stop my headphones from hurting my ears?

So, how can you avoid this pain? The first step is to make sure you’re using headphones that fit properly.


If they’re too big or small, they’re more likely to cause discomfort.


You also want to make sure they’re made from soft, flexible, and comfortable materials.


Headbands should be adjustable so you can find the perfect fit, and ear cups should be padded to create a seal around your ear without putting too much pressure on it.


Another way to avoid pain is to limit the amount of time you spend wearing headphones. A good rule of thumb is to take a break for 5 minutes every hour.


This gives your ears a chance to rest and prevents them from getting too sore.


If you do start to feel pain, take a break immediately and give your ears a chance to recover.


Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help to ease the discomfort.


“The first step is to make sure you’re

using headphones that fit properly.”

Tips to prevent pain when wearing headphones

So when you're trying to listen to your favorite music, study, or simply just relax with a meditation podcast your headphone goals include the type that doesn't hurt ears!


There are a few things you can do to help prevent ear pain from wearing headphones:


  • Choose headphones that are comfortable and fit well.
  • Wear headphones for shorter periods.
  • Take breaks often to give your ears a rest.
  • Lower the volume of your music or audio.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones to reduce surrounding noise.
  • Choose headphones that are padded or have a soft, flexible design. This will help reduce pressure on your ears. Headband-type earphones are ideal for this.
  • Avoid using headphones at high volumes for extended periods. This can damage your hearing and lead to pain.
  • Take breaks from using your headphones every few hours. This will give your ears a chance to rest.
  • Pay attention to how your body feels when wearing headphones and stop if you experience any pain.


If you have any concerns about whether your headphones are causing pain as we mentioned before, consult a doctor.

Which are the best types of headphones that don't hurt your ears?

Which type of headphones is best for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs but here's a list of the best.

Padded earphones

Padded earphones have built-in pads that help to distribute the pressure evenly over your ears. This prevents pain and discomfort, even if you wear them for a long period of time.


Make sure you choose adjustable types so you can find the perfect fit for your ears.

Circumaural headphones

Circumaural headphones are designed to fit around your ears, rather than sitting on them.


This helps to reduce the pressure on your ears and can prevent pain felt by wearing standard over-the-ear types.


Circumaural is just a fancy word for  "around the ear."


Headphones that are this type are also good at isolating noise from the outside world, making them ideal for use in loud environments.

Are earbud headphones better for preventing ear pain?

Earbuds headphones typically don't hurt as much as over-ear headphones because they don't put as much pressure on your ears.


However, they can still be uncomfortable if they're not the right size or if you wear them for too long. If you find that earbuds are causing pain, try adjusting the fit or taking breaks every few hours.

Sleep headphones

If you're looking for headphones that won't hurt your ears, look for ones that are wireless or have a soft, adjustable headband.


Headphones with these features are typically more comfortable and won't put as much pressure on the delicate areas around the ears.


Sleep headphones are designed to be comfortable with a super soft headband that fits snugly but without the pads that could push against your ears in traditional types.


They have a soft, adjustable headband that goes around your head, and the earbuds sit inside your ear.


The sleep headphones also have a built-in microphone so you can take calls without having to remove the headphones.

And to finish on...

If you’re looking for headphones that won’t hurt your ears, you’ve come to the right place.


Check out our store for a range of beautifully soft and comfortable headphones that are perfect for anyone who struggles with discomfort from traditional headphones.


With a variety of colors to choose from, we have something for everyone!


Browse our range of wireless headphones nestled in the coziest and most stylish headband. Take the Headphone Challenge today! Visit our website to see how our headphones compare.

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