Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But permanent hearing damage could be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. Regrettably, most of us choose the more dangerous 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 used to thinking of hearing loss as an issue associated with aging, but more recent research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still growing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it typically involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours every week. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by fairly rapidly. Even still, most people have a fairly sound concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do effectively from a very young age.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you listen to music while keeping track of your volume?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you use one of many free noise monitoring apps. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume gets too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a significant observation.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to limit your exposure. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to go over more options.