Music is an essential part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. His entire 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.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are safe ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Unfortunately, most of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How does listening to music cause hearing loss?
As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue associated with aging, but more and more research reveals that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in the aging process.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be ignored 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?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it usually involves turning the volume down. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours every week. Though that might seem like a long time, it can seem to pass rather quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty sound idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do successfully from a really young age.
The harder part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume isn’t measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You might not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you monitor the volume of your music?
There are a few non-intrusive, easy ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly recommended. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can keep track of the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can take without damage.
So pay close attention and try to stay clear of noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing problems over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more informed the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Contact us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.