Those headphones you love could be hazardous to your health.
The popularity of Apple’s AirPods Max reached fever pitch in 2023, with celebrities and internet personalities alike conspicuously toting the oversized status symbols almost everywhere, prompting the easily-influenced to run out and buy a pair of their own.
But now, some former fans are saying they’ve suffered for style.
This week, Virginia-based author Sarah Stusek complained of her painful, “disgusting” symptoms, blaming it on her AirPods Max headphones, purchased for a whopping $550.
“I keep waking up with the itchiest, wettest ear. It’s disgusting,” Stusek lamented in a TikTok video, while describing the feeling as “wet” with “discharge.”
She added: “It’s from my Apple headphones, like, the big AirPod Maxes or whatever the over-the-ear headphones are called.”
The Post has reached out to Stusek and Apple for comment.
Stusek isn’t isn’t the only one — a slew of dissatisfied customers are voicing their concerns in Apple’s Community Forums, complaining of infection-like ear symptoms that some are chalking up to allergic reactions.
To treat her symptoms, Stusek put a boiling hot, damp paper towel in a cup, suctioning it to her ear. She claimed she could feel the soothing heat “pulling out” the presumed infection.
“I had to stop using my airpods because they gave me an ear infection,” one user commented on Stusek’s TikTok.
“My ears are like this from my AirPods!” another exclaimed.
“I use the giant headphones too and have the same issue!” someone else chimed in.
Apple was recently sued for a “defect” in the AirPods Max headphones called “condensation death,” which allegedly allowed moisture to collect inside the ear cups and disrupt the product’s performance.
While the lawsuit didn’t mention ear infections, Dr. Anthony Cornetta, an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Huntington Medical Group, told The Post that “anything that traps moisture in the ear canal may cause inflammation” and, subsequently, infection.
“This can then lead to a bacterial or a fungal external ear infection, similar to a swimmers ear,” he said in a statement. “It can be with any product that covers the ear canal opening.”
While he doesn’t think there is “any real concern” for wearers to don their favorite headphones, he warned that it could be more common in hot summer months due to sweating.
Keeping headphones clean is also key to maintaining ear health.
Studies have shown that headphones are crawling with microbes that could cause an infection, hence the need for keeping the tech clean and free of ear wax and moisture.
Apple recommends to not use water and instead wipe clean with a “soft, dry, lint-free cloth” unless the product has been exposed to soap, shampoo, lotion, perfumes, food or other substances. In that case, the company advises to wipe gentling with a slightly damp cloth and then dry the headphones off.
Experts also recommend giving your ears a break from both headphones or earbuds — which also pose an infection risk — as prolonged use allows moisture and pathogens to fester.
“The easiest way to avoid the problem is to not cover the ear canal for an extended period of time,” Cornetta advised. “It is always good to allow the ear to get air and ventilate.”