Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out running, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage might be happening as a result of the very loud immersive music he loves.
There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. Unfortunately, the majority of us opt for the more hazardous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, but more recent research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by younger adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Can you listen to music safely?
Unrestricted max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually involves turning the volume down. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
Forty hours every week translates into about five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a while, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our whole lives so the majority of us are pretty good at it.
Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on the majority of smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You may not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you listen to music while monitoring your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s highly recommended you utilize one of numerous cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe limit loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about safe listening? Contact us to go over more options.