Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be contributing to permanent harm to his hearing.
There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. However, the majority of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue associated with aging, but more and more research indicates that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-induced damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be ignored by younger adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger people.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
Unlimited max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it typically involves turning down the volume. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- For adults: 40 hours or less 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.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours a week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly reliable idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do efficiently from a very young age.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?
There are a few non-intrusive, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly advisable. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can take without damage.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. If you do listen to some music beyond 80dB, don’t forget to minimize your exposure. 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 term. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. Your decision making will be more educated the more aware you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.