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Why Do AirPods Hurt My Ears?

Apple’s AirPods offer a long list of benefits, including mobility, good audio quality, and versatile hands-free controls. However, these positive qualities are limited for some people who find that AirPods hurt their ears.

Why do AirPods hurt your ears?

For some users, the AirPods design is not so compatible with the shape of their ears, which can cause discomfort. If AirPods are hurting your ears, you may need to adjust the way you wear them.

Since AirPods were first introduced in mid-2010, there have been several new editions released by Apple. Each new version features slightly different designs, which impact the way they sit inside your ears.

In this guide, we’ll analyze all of the potential reasons that AirPods may be hurting your ears, and what you can do to make them more comfortable.

Why Are My AirPods So Uncomfortable?

AirPods are designed to be comfortable for most people’s ears. However, their round, circular shape sometimes causes pain and discomfort for a small percentage of users.

There are several reasons that AirPods may be causing you pain. These reasons fall into the following three categories:

  • The way they are positioned
  • The length of time they’re worn for
  • The way they fit with your ear shape

One of the most common causes of discomfort for AirPods users is how far they are pushed inside the ear. If the AirPods are positioned deep inside the ear, this is likely to cause aggravation for several reasons.

Firstly, from a physical standpoint, the outer materials of the AirPods will press against the top of your ear canal if they are forced in too deeply. This part of the ear is not meant to come into contact with hard surfaces, and it is, therefore, likely to become irritated as a result.

Another risk factor of pushing AirPods too deeply into your ears is hearing damage.

The further into the ear the AirPods are positioned, the closer the speaker will be to the sensitive parts of the inner ear. If you’ve ever been exposed to a very loud noise before, you’ll know that this can cause physical pain along with tinnitus and potential hearing loss.

Check out our article that discusses tinnitus and AirPods. You can read it here.

The sound from the AirPods has less distance to travel when they are tightly pushed into the ear. This means that they are louder when they enter the eardrum. As a reaction, you may experience headaches, earaches, and even potentially infections.

It’s also possible for earwax to be compacted by the AirPods when they are pushed too far into the ear. This may lead to discomfort, a sense of your ears being blocked, or again, you may end up with an ear infection.

Check out this YouTube video that shows how to keep your AirPods clean.

To determine whether the cause of your discomfort when using AirPods is them being pushed too deeply into your ears, try the following method.

  • Insert the AirPods by gently pulling your earlobe and placing the earbud loosely in your ear
  • Turn the stem of the AirPod until it feels most comfortable
  • Check that the AirPods are loose in your ears, but not loose enough to fall out

AirPods shouldn’t be pushed into your ears too far, but rather inserted gently so that they can move slightly. However, they shouldn’t be too loose, or they may fall out when you are moving around.

AirPods Comfort – Pro vs. 2nd and 3rd Generation

The three most popular varieties of AirPods are the AirPods Pro, AirPods 2nd Generation, and most recently, the AirPods 3rd Generation.

With each new version, Apple has expanded the number of features and capabilities – from noise-canceling to hands-free controls.

  • However, new technological updates don’t necessarily mean improved comfort.

The Pro, 2nd and 3rd generation AirPods each have slightly different designs which some users may find more – or less – comfortable to wear.

Firstly, the 2nd generation AirPods were designed using Apple’s “universal” fit. This means that they were shaped based on the average dimensions of people’s ears. The issue with this design is that there’s no way to adjust them if they are too loose in your ears.

Moving on, Apple slightly modified its design with the popular AirPods Pro.

Unlike the 2nd generation AirPods, the Pro is much more customizable. With a range of differently sized silicone tips available, users can ensure that AirPods Pro fits into their ears correctly, promoting comfort and minimizing the risk of pain.

AirPods 3rd Generation is even more comfortable than the impressive Pro model. Their shape has been completely redesigned and is noticeably different from the previous models.

Rather than being circular, the shape of 3rd Gen AirPods is slightly bulb-like, which helps them to be positioned correctly in the ears without pushing against the skin and potentially causing discomfort.

However, the 3rd Generation AirPods lack one key aspect that the Pro edition boasts – silicone tips. Apple chose to leave this accessory out when designing the 3rd Gen models, which is a shame as they make the AirPods Pro more customizable and compatible with different ear sizes.

Airpods Pro is now available, I have written a comprehensive guide to help you decide if you should choose AirPods or AirPods Pro. There are various pros and cons to both.

This guide will help you decide if AirPods Pro is worth it for your circumstances and needs.

You can read this guide here.

How Should AirPods Go in Your Ear?

Rather than being pushed tightly into your ear, AirPods should be positioned as far away from your ear canal without feeling like they are about to fall out.

A good way to test whether your AirPods are correctly placed is by gently inserting them into your ears and pushing them down towards your earlobe.

Be careful not to push them inward, as this will increase the risk of pain or hearing damage.

Once the AirPods are loosely placed in your ears, tilt your head to each side a few times to check whether the earbuds feel like they are about to slip out.

If they remain in your ears, this is a sign they’re positioned correctly.

Why Do My Ears Feel Weird with AirPods in?

In addition to positioning AirPods incorrectly in your ears, another reason they may feel weird is due to wearing them for too long without taking a break.

Ears are not meant to have objects inside them, and especially not for long periods. When you wear AirPods for hours, the hard material pushes against the inside of your ear, and as a response, you experience pain.

If you’re using AirPods for over 90 minutes, you should take a break of around 15 minutes so that your ears can recover. For some people, it may be necessary to remove the AirPods every hour to avoid pain.

How to Relieve Ear Pain from Overuse of AirPods

There are a few things you can do to relieve ear pain from overusing your AirPods.

As I previously explained, using AirPods for too long or too often will cause soreness in your ears. The best course of action is to rest your ears and remove the AirPods until the pain subsides.

Another thing you can do is massage your ears gently when the AirPods are removed. This will increase blood flow to the area that is hurting, and your body will heal it more quickly.

Finally, it may help if you apply a small ice pack to your ear for a short period. Again, this will trigger your body to send blood to the area, and also reduce any swelling or bruising caused by the hard surface pushing against your skin.

Can You Sleep Comfortably with AirPods in?

Out of the three most popular AirPods models, AirPods Pro is likely to be the most comfortable to sleep in.

Nevertheless, earbuds, in general, can cause discomfort if you wear them while sleeping, because you may push them into your ear too deeply without realizing it.

If you tend to sleep on your back, then there should be no issues wearing AirPods while sleeping.

However, people who sleep on their side may find that the pressure from their head against the pillow causes the AirPod to be forced into their ear.

The only way to know whether you can sleep comfortably with AirPods is by testing it for yourself.

Thankfully, due to their wireless design, there’s no risk of the cable being wrapped around your neck while you sleep, so they are safe to experiment with.

If you need to know if your alarm will go off when sleeping with AirPods in, be sure to check out this article.

Related Questions

Do AirPods easily fall out?

If you have larger ears, there’s a chance that the small design of AirPods may cause them to become loose and fall out. However, AirPods Pro come can be used with adjustable silicone covers, which can make them fit more sturdily in your ears.

Can you use AirPods with an Apple Watch?

AirPods can be used for wireless audio with the Apple Watch 3. Earlier models are not able to stream music AirPods, but the 3rd Generation Apple Watch is equipped with this ability.

Do AirPods need to be updated?

Apple-designed AirPods to be automatically updated. Unlike other Apple devices, such as iPhones or iPads, AirPods cannot be manually updated. When updates are released by Apple, they are automatically installed onto the AirPods without the user needing to do anything.