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Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

People who work in loud surroundings like construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only people impacted by noise related hearing loss. It doesn’t even have to be work-related, leisure-related noise exposure can be harmful, too. The most prevalent kind? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything else that you would listen to through earbuds or headphones.

You may not think your smartphone or tablet can go that loud. The ordinary pain threshold for human hearing is about 150 db which is well within the range of these devices. This is the volume at which noise begins to literally cause pain in your ears. So what’s the solution for protecting your hearing against volume related damage.

The volume level here is significant. Listen with the volume at or below 60% for no more than 60 minutes at a stretch (how long you listen for also makes a difference), this is known as the 60/60 rule.

Your Hearing Aids Can be Set up For Listening to Music

Make certain, if you’re wearing hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other sounds by turning your streaming music up too loud. And there are more appropriate ways to listen to music so ask us about that also. Hearing aids aren’t made to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if you’re really into music, you may have noticed this. We may be able to make adjustments to lessen noise and feedback while increasing some frequency ranges to improve the quality of sound when listening to music.

Selecting Headphones

When shopping for headphones there are numerous choices, particularly if you wear hearing aids. It might be a matter of personal preference, but there are some things you will want to consider there as well.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

While the foam-covered earpieces that came with your old Walkman are generally no longer used, over-the-ear headphones have had a resurgence. Often unexpectedly pricey, they feature lots of color choices and celebrity endorsements, and of course, exceptional sound quality. And these headphones go over the entire ear blocking out noise, unlike those old foam ones.

Main-stream perception is that these are less dangerous than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But because the speakers are bigger they are commonly capable of much higher volume. Noise cancellation can be a helpful thing as long as you’re not missing important sounds like an oncoming automobile. But on the upside, you don’t need to contend with outside sound so you can listen to your music at lower levels.

Earbuds

The normal earbuds are widely known for poor sound quality, but because they come along with your phone a lot of people still use them. Particularly, with newer Apple phones, it’s simply easier to use the earbuds that came with the device because it most likely doesn’t have a headphone jack.

The downside, aside from the inferior sound quality, is that basic earbuds don’t block outside noises, so you’re more likely to crank up the volume. It’s generally thought that inserting earbuds so close to your eardrum is the primary problem but it’s really the volume.

Noise Canceling Earbuds

Many people buy earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfortable than traditional earbuds and more effective at blocking outside sounds. The rubber molds to the shape of your ear, creating a seal that stops other sounds from entering. But these earbuds can also block out sounds you might need to hear and volume is still the main concern. Obviously, these won’t work for you if you wear hearing aids.

You might have to check out quite a few pairs before you find headphones that are what you are looking for. Your expectations, acoustically, will be different dependant on what kind of use you usually give them. Listening to your music at a healthy volume and coming across headphones that help you do that is essential.

Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Hearing

Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? There’s an app for that…If you have a smartphone, you can download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get other apps, but research has discovered that the accuracy of these other apps is hit-and-miss (additionally, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have been shown to be less reliable). That motivated NIOSH to develop an app of their own. You can measure outside noise using the app, but it’s also possible to measure the sound coming from your device’s speakers, in other words, the actual volume of what’s being sent to your ears. It’s a little bit of effort, but taking these types of protective steps can help protect your ears.