Music is a major 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 headphones are almost always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But the very thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, might be contributing to permanent damage to his hearing.
There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. But the more dangerous listening choice is usually the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem associated with aging, but more recent research is showing 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 susceptible to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by younger adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger individuals.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music at max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a safer way to listen. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- 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.
Forty hours every week is roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that may seem like a while, it can seem to pass rather quickly. But we’re taught to monitor time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.
How can you track the volume of your music?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly advisable. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises around you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your actual dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently let you know that your volume is too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long run. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. The more you can be aware of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Contact us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.