AirPods: Just started high-strength antibiotics

kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
Hi everyone,

I've been using Airpods for a year, probably 5-6 hours a day on average, I never used any bluetooth accessory before, always avoided them, but gave AirPods a chance, and it indeed cut my cable clutter a lot, and while it lasted, I did enjoy the practicality and the technology, it's indeed a marvel of a product - but the health aspect always worried me, especially because I used the tap gesture a lot

I've been experiencing some minor aching on my left ear for a while, it was a minor nuisance for months, like small surface aches, but last 2-3 weeks, it really became an issue, as holiday season is a busy time for me, I didn't pay much attention, but yesterday, I started worrying about it, I suspected it was because of tapping my left ear with the gesture, and stress related to that, but afterwards I googled "AirPods RF" and was terrified that AirPods were such high power devices, they seemingly don't use low power bluetooth, and finding out that even Apple is hiding the RF levels: https://www.apple.com/legal/rfexposure/ got me super worried - I also had one hair grew from my ear some time ago, like the ones really old people have, it fell after I played with it, it felt like a pimple, but it was an overgrown hair, I suspected it could have cause the original nuisance too, I also got a bit paranoid thinking I could have another hair growing inwards that's causing the new increasing pain

Anyway, I immediately went to the doctors today after all the google induced paranoia, I was expecting the doctor to tell me I was okay, but turns out I was not, the strain on my left ear was serious and could get much worse - so even though I'd prefer not to get medicated, I was prescribed high strength antibiotics, painkillers, and an eardrop - Doctor's theory was that it was because of the repeated mechanical and acoustic stress, and not RF - since it's only the left ear, I think it's probably not RF either, but after learning about the RF levels, and suspected health effects, I'm obviously not going to use the AirPods for listening to music, watching stuff etc. ever again, In 2-3 months, If I heal, I could maybe use it for the occasional calls, conferences etc.

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So why am I sharing story? Well the lesson for me is to make my health a priority, I originally falsely assumed AirPods will be ok to use, trusted Apple to make sure a mass produced device would be harmless, but in hindsight, I feel very stupid for not making my health the first priority (I feel stupid because a company made me tap my ear repeatedly, I mean, what was I thinking?)

If you've read this far, my suggestion is to keep on using non-bluetooth devices for lengthy tasks like listening to music etc. - If you do use AirPods, consider not using the tap gestures - I'll personally use my speaker setup more, and will downgrade to corded earphones when my ear heals

Thanks for reading
Stay healthy,
Kaan
 

Knowlege Bomb

macrumors 604
Feb 14, 2008
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2,278
Madison, WI
Wowsa. Sorry to hear about your health issues. This is certainly a scary prospect but I can't really see how light tapping on an earbud would cause everything you're experiencing.

Had you ever had ear issues prior to the AirPods? Maybe extra oily skin? It could be that the tapping exacerbated an existing issue or you only noticed an existing inflamed follicle because of the tapping.
 

kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
Thanks, Oily skin, No prior issues but I tend to shuffle a lot while listening to music, the tap gesture was always worrisome - also gently touching didn't work for me, you had to nudge it a slight bit to get the taps registered - last 2 weeks, when the ear issue heightened, I even tried lifting the airpods up a bit, so the taps press onto a harder part of the ear, but it gets disconnected if you move the airpods out, all in all, water under the bridge at this point, a lot of regrets :)

Edit: as far as the doctor commented, as far as I understand, the acoustic stress amplifies issues like this, there isn't enough airflow, there's pressure, not enough ventilation etc. - so no stress and a naturally open sound stage for me from now on
 
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Caromsoft

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2012
137
23
I had the same type infection in both ears. Was prescribed antibiotics and drops as well. Cleared it right up. The Dr. recommended trying to keep my ears as dry as possible and stop cleaning my ears with q-tips immediately. I haven't had further problems.

When I saw the Dr. he knew what it was even before looking into my ears, apparently it is a very common occurrence.

I don't use AirPods or any earbuds for any extended length of time.

Glad you had it looked at. I too put it off for way too long, especially when it was so quickly and easily cleared up.

Good luck.
 

Knowlege Bomb

macrumors 604
Feb 14, 2008
6,536
2,278
Madison, WI
I had the same type infection in both ears. Was prescribed antibiotics and drops as well. Cleared it right up. The Dr. recommended trying to keep my ears as dry as possible and stop cleaning my ears with q-tips immediately. I haven't had further problems.

When I saw the Dr. he knew what it was even before looking into my ears, apparently it is a very common occurrence.

I don't use AirPods or any earbuds for any extended length of time.

Glad you had it looked at. I too put it off for way too long, especially when it was so quickly and easily cleared up.

Good luck.
How else are you supposed to clean your ears?
 

kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
I had the same type infection in both ears. Was prescribed antibiotics and drops as well. Cleared it right up. The Dr. recommended trying to keep my ears as dry as possible and stop cleaning my ears with q-tips immediately. I haven't had further problems.

When I saw the Dr. he knew what it was even before looking into my ears, apparently it is a very common occurrence.

I don't use AirPods or any earbuds for any extended length of time.

Glad you had it looked at. I too put it off for way too long, especially when it was so quickly and easily cleared up.

Good luck.
I'm glad you got well so fast, thanks for sharing your experience, indeed my diagnosis was super fast too - and I got the impression that it was an expected situation - even before the doctor looked into my ear, when I mentioned worries related to earphones, he knew what to expect

How else are you supposed to clean your ears?
Afaik, q-tips are generally risky too, I don't use them myself, but when you have this condition, I assume it was similar, the ear starts pushing off grease much much more than usual, in hindsight, I probably should've seen the doctor much earlier, but I was really busy, and really hoped I would recover on my own, so if anyone else experiences it, best to get it checked up as soon as possible
 

Caromsoft

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2012
137
23
How else are you supposed to clean your ears?
I used to always have earwax built up. After I stopped using q-tips there is almost never anything there. What there is seems to dry up and get pushed to the outside where it is easily removed with my fingertip.

When the Dr. asked me why I was using q-tips I told him about the wax build up and he told me if I still had a problem with that come back to see him and he would recommend other methods. Haven't needed to go back!
 

Ralfi

macrumors 68030
Dec 22, 2016
2,893
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Australia
Mechanical & acoustic stress? Sounds strange & very unlucky, if true.

Did you get a second opinion?

& if that second opinion differed from the first, I’d go for a third.
 

Absrnd

macrumors 6502a
Apr 15, 2010
579
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Flatland
This must be the best " false assumption" post of 2018 :)

Could it be because if the Airpods,...sure
but you just have sensitive ear-canals, and probably played the music a bit too loud,
also the slight pressure in your ear can get very sensitive after long daily use.


I had the exacts same thing happen to me years ago, my ears were not happy with inner ear headphones, and it forced all kinds of crap inside my ears, as I did not clean them properly regularly.

I had always worn inner ear headphones, and never had problems, but after years of use my ears became too sensitive.

I switched to over the ear headphones, problem solved ;)
 
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childoftheko4n

macrumors regular
Oct 18, 2011
227
48
I have some hair on the exterior of my ear sometimes, have for a long time. Does this make me "really old"? =( haha

On a more serious note, glad you seem to have cleared it up. Def seems to be something not linked to airpods directly tho so i wouldn't freak out and swear them off if you enjoy them /shrug
 

rmoliv

macrumors 6502a
Dec 20, 2017
997
1,387
Maybe you don't clean your AirPods often enough. If you happen to have a micro wound in your ear for whatever reason bacteria from the AirPods (or even your own skin) may infect it. I don't think AirPods are the direct cause of your illness.
 

tl01

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2010
2,308
607
I am confused.... did you have an infection? Or what are the antibiotics for?? What was the diagnosis exactly?
 

AppleHaterLover

macrumors 68000
Jun 15, 2018
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I’m VERY curious as to how OP linked RF to an ear infection.

He gave you antibiotics because he suspected of an ear infection. Probably you’ve been tapping with dirty fingers...?
 

kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
I am confused.... did you have an infection? Or what are the antibiotics for?? What was the diagnosis exactly?
I originally suspected something else but the diagnosis was ear infection, the doctor said it was probably because of acoustic stress, however after 10 days of antibiotics the discomfort is still there, got an appointment tomorrow
 

tl01

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2010
2,308
607
I originally suspected something else but the diagnosis was ear infection, the doctor said it was probably because of acoustic stress, however after 10 days of antibiotics the discomfort is still there, got an appointment tomorrow
Hope you figure it what the cause is.
 

ZipZap

macrumors 603
Dec 14, 2007
5,431
858
AirPods are painful to use. So were all of the wired versions. The shape is not for everyone. I now use a Bluetooth bone conductive headset 99% of the time and have had zero pain issues. I only use the AirPods for fidelity and only for brief periods of time.
 
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Plett

macrumors regular
Feb 16, 2016
187
137
Sorry to hear about your trouble OP.

Clearly everyones situation is different. I cannot imagine using them more than the time it takes for a walk in the park or a workout. I prefer a room speaker when I can, that said I know many folks that use them during the day to work (I cannot focus with music playing). I have not heard of this issue, but I am very curious if it is more widespread, or if folks like the OP have sensitivities that are unique to a smaller percent of the population. What I don't understand from the post is why wired headphones would be any different? I would think that over the ear headphones would provide relief if having something inside the ear canal hurts but the wire??? Very interesting nonetheless.
 

kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
Thanks for the kind words

It seems I originally had an outer ear infection, now it's a middle ear infection, 10 days of different antibiotics and some other meds

I really hope it wasn't caused by AirPods, either from class 1 bluetooth or from the tapping motion, I think an infection is far better than the damage those 2 could've caused - a lot of people on this thread approached this in a very hostile manner, it's not an insult against your religion, I'm just sharing what I'm experiencing in hopes that others don't go through the same thing

According to the doctor, it's caused by acoustic stress, he commented that regular speakers deliver sound in a more natural manner, but earphones (wired or wireless) - deliver it in a more damaging manner, I normally use a regular sound system, but before this issue occurred, I was probably using the airpods at least 5 hours a day

Feeling a bit pessimistic at this point honestly, you realise how precious things are in times like this
 
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NovemberWhiskey

macrumors 68040
May 18, 2009
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It's not from bluetooth, RF, or tapping.

You already identified the cause, IF it is related to the AirPods at all: the ingrown hairs/pimples. Either you aren't cleaning your AirPods, or you are particularly sensitive to having a foreign object in your ear for extended periods of time and you developed a bacterial infection/inggrown hairs (which led to an infection). The infection spread.

I've also suffered from the "pimple" feeling in my ear, but to a lesser and harmless degree. What solved it? Stopped wearing AirPods until it healed.

Check the seams of the AirPods. Not all are smooth. Some have rough jagged edges from poor assembly. Some glue could be irritating your skin.

Also pay attention to your own personal hygiene. You take the AirPods out with dirty hands, which necessitates touching the part that goes in your ear. You go to the bathroom, don't wash your hands, touch the AirPods which go into your ear, and then you have a bacterial infection. This is why I frequently clean mine with alcohol, and make sure my hands aren't dirty when I first put them in.
 
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kaans

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 17, 2014
78
7
It's not from bluetooth, RF, or tapping.

You already identified the cause, IF it is related to the AirPods at all: the ingrown hairs/pimples. Either you aren't cleaning your AirPods, or you are particularly sensitive to having a foreign object in your ear for extended periods of time and you developed a bacterial infection/inggrown hairs (which led to an infection). The infection spread.

I've also suffered from the "pimple" feeling in my ear, but to a lesser and harmless degree. What solved it? Stopped wearing AirPods until it healed.

Check the seams of the AirPods. Not all are smooth. Some have rough jagged edges from poor assembly. Some glue could be irritating your skin.

Also pay attention to your own personal hygiene. You take the AirPods out with dirty hands, which necessitates touching the part that goes in your ear. You go to the bathroom, don't wash your hands, touch the AirPods which go into your ear, and then you have a bacterial infection. This is why I frequently clean mine with alcohol, and make sure my hands aren't dirty when I first put them in.


I've used earphones for years, nothing like this happens, everything you mentioned applies to all kinds of earphones, and it's more funny that you experienced issues with Airpods too, yet you continue denying even the possibility of an issue, it's remarkable
[doublepost=1545821582][/doublepost]

(bacterias and microbes are everywhere, yet, you don't get an infection every time you contact one, as most naives in this thread don't comprehend)

My final theory is, RF heats the tissue, tapping further irritates things, combines with the regular acoustic stress and lengthy usage, it triggered this issue, whatever this is
 
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NovemberWhiskey

macrumors 68040
May 18, 2009
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I've used earphones for years, nothing like this happens, everything you mentioned applies to all kinds of earphones, and it's more funny that you experienced issues with Airpods too, yet you continue denying even the possibility of an issue, it's remarkable
[doublepost=1545821582][/doublepost]

(bacterias and microbes are everywhere, yet, you don't get an infection every time you contact one, as most naives in this thread don't comprehend)

My final theory is, RF heats the tissue, tapping further irritates things, combines with the regular acoustic stress and lengthy usage, it triggered this issue, whatever this is
Your theory isn’t based on science. It’s just your nonsense beliefs.

Millions of other people use air pods without issue, including myself outside of those 2-3 times I’ve experienced some irritation. If it was RF, BT, or any other EM signal, the problem would be much more prevalent and consistent.

Like I said, this is most likely irritation or an infection caused by poor hygiene, glue, allergies, or just your own body having a bad reaction while you happened o be used air pods.

Correlation, is not cause and effect.

Try science next time instead of personal anecdotes.

I developed an allergy once to one of my Apple Watch bands. I read a few people have experienced the same due to some metal buckles having higher nickel content.
 
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AppleHaterLover

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Jun 15, 2018
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Your theory isn’t based on science. It’s just your nonsense beliefs.

Millions of other people use air pods without issue, including myself outside of those 2-3 times I’ve experienced some irritation. If it was RF, BT, or any other EM signal, the problem would be much more prevalent and consistent.

Like I said, this is most likely irritation or an infection caused by poor hygiene, glue, allergies, or just your own body having a bad reaction while you happened o be used air pods.

Correlation, is not cause and effect.

Try science next time instead of personal anecdotes.

I developed an allergy once to one of my Apple Watch bands. I read a few people have experienced the same due to some metal buckles having higher nickel content.

"RF heats tissue"

The FCC has VERY strict criteria for how much energy such radios can generate. The 50 theories you've brought up are little more (and probably less) than tinfoil-hat science.

This is likely a case of dirty AirPods, Q-Tip abuse, sticking your finger in your ear, etc.

I'm at a loss as to how AirPod taps would cause any sort of "irritation" - unless you're punching yourself everytime you want to skip a song.
 
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NovemberWhiskey

macrumors 68040
May 18, 2009
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"RF heats tissue"

The FCC has VERY strict criteria for how much energy such radios can generate. The 50 theories you've brought up are little more (and probably less) than tinfoil-hat science.

This is likely a case of dirty AirPods, Q-Tip abuse, sticking your finger in your ear, etc.

I'm at a loss as to how AirPod taps would cause any sort of "irritation" - unless you're punching yourself everytime you want to skip a song.
You’re quoting the wrong guy, but I agree with u

Furthermore, I’d suggest he research into what wavelength would be required to penetrate a cell wall and affect its physiology, and what wavelength Bluetooth operates at.

Tha, and based on his dirt bike pic, he’s probably not one bothered by a little dirt and dust, or grease on the hands. That, and if he wears them under his helmet, that’s probably a more reasonable mechanical pressure causing the irritation.