Music is an important part of Aiden’s life. While he’s out running, he listens 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 irreversible hearing damage could be happening as a consequence of the very loud immersive music he loves.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are safe ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Regrettably, most of us opt for the more hazardous listening choice.
How does listening to music cause hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but the latest research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, 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 individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
Unlimited max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it typically involves turning the volume down. Here are a couple of general guidelines:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours 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 per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather rapidly. But we’re trained to monitor time our whole lives so most of us are pretty good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not calculated in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to tunes while keeping track of your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you utilize one of numerous 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 adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.
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 minimize your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. The more you can be aware of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Call us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.