HomeBuyer's GuideHeadphones Hurt Ear Cartilage: Solutions

Headphones Hurt Ear Cartilage: Solutions

Nowadays headphone has become an inseparable gadget in our daily life.

You have to use headphones for various purposes like listening to music, audiobook, radio, podcast, watching TV or movies, attending phone calls, and so on.

Or, if you are a DJ, professional gamer, or studio worker, you have no ways to avoid headphones.

Am I right?

In this situation, we often face different problems like ear pain, headache, sore ear cartilage, etc., for a prolonged using period.

Therefore, we wish if we could wear headphones for so long without facing such issues!

But how to turn this dream into reality?

Well, don’t worry. I am here today to present a discussion on headphones hurt ear cartilage: the reasons and the solutions!

So, get ready to explore it.

Why Do Headphones Hurt Our Ears?

There are plenty of reasons behind it.

Right now, I am going to describe them one by one.

Overuse Of Headphones

I have mentioned earlier that using headphones for an extended period is the main reason. As our lifestyle demands it, we somehow end up hurting our ear cartilage wearing them for a long time.

Many people often complain that “gaming headset hurts my ears.” It happens due to an extended gaming session.

Poor Fit

A poor fit of headphones is one of the reasons you feel pain in your ears. It can be caused by several facts. They are:

Small Sized Headphones

When you wear a headphone that is not well suited to your head size, it will hurt your ears.

It will happen if you get a headphone with a smaller size than the average. You will get a tight fit in this case, which in turn causes ear pain.

Size Of The Ear Cups Or Ear Cushions

If your ears are smaller or larger than the average, most of the models will be a poor fit for your ears.

The cup size or the ear cushions may be too small or too large.

So, they cannot rest properly against the ears leaving a pressure on the cartilage.

Unadjustable Headbands

Have you ever heard such a complaint that headphones hurt the top of my head?

The reason is the headband that is too tight for your head. It cannot be adjusted to your head in any ways, thus, causing a poor fit.

Inappropriate Clamping Force

It happens with on-ear and over-ear headphones.

If the clamping force is so strong, it will put extra pressure on the ear cartilage and the temporal lobe of the ears.

At the same time, Low clamping force can hurt your ears too.

Loud Volume And Excessive Treble

When you always tend to listen at a higher volume, you will feel the treble in an expanded way.

It may hurt the ear cartilage.

Ears exposed to loud sounds of about 125dB can adversely affect your hearing.

Listener Fatigue

Listener fatigue is a feeling of tiredness or discomfort that occurs due to listening for a long period.

According to Alex Rowe, listener fatigue is related to extravagant energy in higher frequencies.

Sony stated that the eardrums have to work so hard when processing this loud volume.

Therefore, it ends up hurting the ear cartilage.

Damage On The Ear Cushions

Headphone cushions are designed in such a way that they can provide great comfort.

But if you don’t take proper care, they will start to peel off. Cracking will appear on them too.

The main reason for this damage is sweat. Sweat is pretty corrosive.

It looks displeasing and also spreads bad smells, which in turn triggers ear pain with a headache.

Shallow Padding Of Ear Cups

Due to shallow earcup padding, the headphone drivers press against the ears.

So, it ultimately provides a painful listening experience hurting the ear cartilage.

This may even lead to skin inflammation and scratches in worse cases.

Earcup materials

The materials of earcups have a significant impact on their breathability.

If you don’t get suitable and comfortable materials for your earcups, they will restrict the airflow and trap heat.

As a result, your ears will get too hot, ending up hurting the ear cartilage.

Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The sensitive technology of noise canceling headphones might not be suitable for some people.

The counteracting of two types of sound waves adds extra pressure on your ears, causing ear pain or discomfort.

Wearing glasses with headphones

Are you a glass user?

Then wearing headphones with glasses may hurt your ear cartilage.

The headphones press against the arms of your glasses, causing extra pressure on your ears.

Inserting The In-Ears Too Deep

If you insert the earbuds or IEM too deep inside the ear canal, the vibration generated by them will cause soreness in your ears.

In fact, it is the reason why AirPods hurt cartilage.

Incorrect Ear Tips Size Of In-Ears

Ear tips too big for your ears will build up tension in the inner ears, eventually leading to inner ear pain.

Ear Physical Issues

You may also experience ear pain if you have ear wax inside ear canals, ear infections, or allergic sensitivity.

These are the probable reasons why headphones hurt ear cartilage.

A proverb goes that prevention is better than cure.

Therefore, isn’t it better to do something that this headphone pain would not happen in the first place?

That means the prevention measures!

I know you are eagerly waiting to know how to make headphones not hurt your ears.

Okay, let’s go for it without any further delay.

How To Prevent Headphone Pain?

Here are some essential measures that you can take to stay away from ear pain. Have a look to know the details.

Avoid Overusing And Take A Break

You have to set a limitation for headphone use.

Also, try to take a break while wearing them for a long session. It will help you to avoid listener fatigue as well as ear pain.

Use Headphone With A Proper Fit

Ensure proper fit when purchasing a headphone. For that, go for a trial before the purchase.

  • Make sure that the size of the headphone is well-fitted and perfect for you.
  • You have to check the ear cup size whether it is suitable for you or not.
  • Go for a headphone with an adjustable headband.

If all the criteria for a proper fit are met, you don’t need to endure any headphone pain anymore.

Keep The Volume Low

Keep your volume at a moderate level to reduce the chance of having listener fatigue. It will ultimately prevent hurting the ear cartilage.

You can try the 60/60 rule: for 60 minutes you have to listen at 60% volume, then take a break for 30 minutes or more to allow the ears to rest and recover.

Buy Comfortable Headphones

Check out the comfortability of the headphones before buying them.

For comfortability:

  • Select over-ear headphones.
  • Go for headphones with a thick ear cup and headband padding.
  • Ensure a standard clamping force.
  • Choose earbuds that provide varying sizes of ear tips options to get the most comfortable fit.

Over-ear headphone are more comfortable compared to the on-ear ones.

Maintain The Ear Cushions

Take proper care of ear cushions or ear pads. For that, you can check our previous article on how to clean headset ear pads.

Besides, you can choose sweatproof headphones.

Also, use sweat covers to protect them from moisture damage. Replace the earpads or cushions if needed.

Choose Ear Cups With Breathable Materials

Foam, leather, velour, pleather, etc., are used nowadays for ear padding.

Leather and pleather ear cushions are harder compared to foam and velour ones.

Try looking for ear cups made from velour. This material is breathable enough to let sufficient air in.

Therefore, your ears don’t get hot, leading to ear pain.

Keep Your Headphone Clean

You have to clean your headphones regularly if you want to avoid ear infections, ear wax build-up, and allergic reactions. Also, don’t share your earbuds with others.

Wear Headphones And Glasses Comfortably

To learn some important tips, you can go through my another article. It was all about how to wear headphones with glasses comfortably.

I hope it will help you to avoid headphone pain.

Stretch Out The Headband

You can stretch out the headband of your existing headphone to lower the clamping force. However, do you know how to do this?

Don’t worry. Luckily, in the article just mentioned above, you will even find this stretching process.

Therefore, check it out from there and apply it to prevent the headphone pain.

Well, I hope the prevention measures are clear to you now.

But unfortunately, it may happen that your pain is severe, and it’s getting worse with time.

In this situation, it will be best to see an ENT specialist.

That’s all for today.


All this time, I have described how you can prevent the pain or discomfort of ear cartilage while using headphones, earphones, or earbuds.

I have also included the reasons behind it.

Therefore, I hope this write-up on headphones hurt ear cartilage will be helpful to avoid such problems.

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