Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be causing irreversible harm to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are healthy for your ears and ways that are not so safe. Regrettably, most of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How does listening to music result in hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem caused by aging, but the latest research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still growing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-induced damage. And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- 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 fine but decrease the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours every week. Though that might seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty reliable concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do successfully from a really young age.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on the majority of smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may have no 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?
It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly advisable. 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 actual dB level. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
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 too loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to minimize your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long run. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to explore more options.