Anibal Ortiz / Roundup
College students often enjoy a quick tune between classes, but their love for music may threaten their health.
A recent study published on the Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences (OJHAS) reveals that people who regularly use earphones significantly increase the growth of bacteria in their ears.
The study used two groups of male subjects ranging between the ages of 18 to 25. Results showed a 12 percent growth of bacteria from both earphone and external ear samples pertaining to the more frequent users.
“It makes sense,” said 20-year-old student Danny Yu. “It’s not very clean and sanitary and I’m sticking it in my ear everyday.”
According to the report, observable signs and symptoms of these infections include: swelling of the ear canal, a discharge and foul odor of the ear canal, itching, pain, tenderness and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
Otitis media and otitis externa, better known as “Swimmer’s Ear,” are the two most common ear infections, according to Beth Benne, director of the Pierce College Student Health Center.
When Pierce student Brian Milano was asked about whether he used methods for preventing the spread of bacteria in his ear, he replied, “Besides like what? Q-tips? Not really.”
Students and staff had mixed feelings regarding the sharing of earphones.
Christopher Gibbs, a 20-year-old who plans to go into the music business, said, “I’ve done it before, but when you break it down and get technical, I don’t think it’s really safe to be, to you know, using somebody else’s earphones—let alone yours—over and over without cleaning them.”
Benne compared it to sharing a comb or a toothbrush.
“I would never share earbuds,” she said.
The OJHAS report claims there is a worldwide increase in the usage of headphones and the effects of using stethoscopes, private and shared headphones, such as airline headphones, continue to be studied.
Benne has not yet observed earphones as a direct cause of ear infections at Pierce, but goes on to say the nurses at the Student Health Center always use clean stethoscopes.
She explained the ear infections usually accompany sinus and upper-respiratory conditions, and most cases of otitis media and otitis externa can be treated with eardrops whereas others require oral antibiotics.
After hearing about the study, most of the students claim they will remain loyal to their earphones.
“This is the greatest invention ever made,” said student Chris Hallowangeo. “I love earphones!”