Aiden loves music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, might be contributing to lasting damage to his hearing.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening option is frequently the one most of us choose.
How can listening to music cause hearing loss?
As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Typically, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more recent research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by younger adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it typically involves turning the volume down. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: 40 hours or less of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume below 80dB.
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but keep the volume level below 75dB.
Forty hours every week translates into about five hours and forty minutes per day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather rapidly. But we’re trained to keep track of time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume isn’t measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you track the volume of your music?
It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are some non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as noisy 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 a significant observation.
So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Contact us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.