Aiden loves music. While he’s out running, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a totally soundtracked event. But the exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, could be contributing to permanent harm to his hearing.
For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Regrettably, the majority of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
As time passes, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as an issue caused by aging, but more recent research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term harm 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 loud headphone use.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music at max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but reduce the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours every week translates into about five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that may seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. But we’re trained to monitor time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You might not have any clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to tunes while monitoring your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, easy ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not very easy for us to conceptualize exactly 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. 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 real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a significant observation.
So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times when you’re going beyond that volume threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more educated the more aware you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Call us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.