Why Do Headphones Hurt My Ears? How to Fix them

Every audiophile desires to have a perfect set of headphones that offers quality sound and comfort. Wearing them comfortably for long hours to mute your surroundings and enjoy being in your zone is the goal. However, some people experience discomfort and pain when using them for long hours. In this article, we’ll discuss your query about why headphones hurt your ears and how to stop headphones from hurting your ears.

Why do headphones hurt my ears?

You can experience discomfort if you wear your headphones for long hours. This is because of the pressure exerted on your ears. Also, if you listen to music at a high volume, you risk hearing loss. Therefore, you must ensure that the headphones you choose have a comfortable and secure fit. Avoid hurting your ears by exposing them to loud music.

Let’s look deeper into the reasons for earache or headache while using headphones.

ill-Fitting Headphones

The headphones that do not come with an adjustable option can be too tight for your head. They can put pressure on your head, causing headaches when worn for continuous hours.

Also, if the clamping force is too strong or too low, it can hurt your ears.

Although headphones are designed to fit average head sizes, if you get one in a smaller size, you will experience ear pain.

Loud Volume

Frequently listening to sound at a high volume can cause problems in the long run. It could be more than just ear pain.

110 dB is known to be the threshold sound pressure level for discomfort. So, listening to sounds at this volume can cause discomfort. Do you know how much the noise level is at concerts? It’s 120 dB. Moreover, a gunshot or thunder has an SPL of 130 dB, which is the pain threshold. Listening to loud sounds above 85 dB can cause chronic damage to the ears.

So, if you’re working in industrial areas, then you should consider noise cancelling headphones for loud machinery. Similarly, there are some headphones for construction workers that block out high volume sounds at sites to prevent permanent loss of hearing.

Ear Infection

Ever noticed that your ears feel itchy? This could be due to an ear infection caused by headphones. Wearing them constantly prevents air passage in the ears leading to the growth of organisms. Moreover, dirt and bacteria can enter your canal. All of these can cause an ear infection. If you share your headphones, bacteria can transfer from one person to another.

Wax Buildup

Wearing headphones for long hours restricts air passage to the ear canal. This obstructs the process of self-cleaning of ears which increases the wax buildup. When there’s an excessive buildup of earwax, your ear canal gets blocked, causing pain and hearing issues.

How to Stop Headphones from Hurting Your Ears?

Here are some steps you can take to stop earache or headache caused by wearing headphones.

Get Your Ear Allergies Treated

If you have an ear infection that triggers the pain, you need to see a specialist to get your problem treated. If ignored, there are chances of the infection spreading and causing chronic issues.

Also, you must regularly clean them to avoid allergies and infections.

Reduce the Volume

Listening to sounds at full volume damages the ears in the long run. Turn down the volume to 60% or low to be pleasant and gentle to the ears.

This way, you will lessen the pressure on your ears and enjoy listening to your favorite tracks that otherwise could be frustrating.

Limit Headphone Usage

Give your ears some rest. You can take breaks in between to avoid listening fatigue. For instance, you can have a listening time of 60 minutes at 60% volume and then take a half an hour break. Following these steps will stop hurting your cartilage.

You can also switch to speakers for listening to prevent hearing loss from excessive headphone usage.

Comfortable Headphones

Most headphones are designed for average-sized heads and ears. But, the one-size-fits-all does not go for everyone. So, you need to ensure a proper fit before buying.

They must feel right on your head and ears. The headband should be adjustable and well-padded. Moreover, the earcups should be well-cushioned and breathable. The clamping force should ensure a secure fit. Any extra pressure can cause headaches or earaches when used for long hours.


Earache sometimes comes with excessive headphone usage. Your headphones could be too tight for you, or you listen to tracks on full volume. Or you might have an ear infection. You need to figure out the reason behind your ear pain and work on the problem before it worsens.

Getting comfortable headphones, listening on low volume with breaks, and scheduling an appointment with an ear specialist are ways to stop hurting your ears. Sharing these tips with your friends who constantly complain about earaches can greatly help.

Headphone Savvy