Music is an essential part of Aiden’s life. While he’s out running, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he loves.
For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening choice is usually the one most of us choose.
How can listening to music lead to hearing loss?
As time passes, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem caused by aging, but the latest research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-induced damage. And yet, young adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music on max volume. But merely turning the volume down is a safer way to listen. Here are a couple of general guidelines:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but keep the volume level below 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes per day will be about forty hours a week. Though that could seem like a while, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re trained to keep track of time our whole lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on the majority of smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You might not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?
There are a few non-intrusive, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly recommended you use one of many 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 modify your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times when you’re going beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing problems over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more informed the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.