Music is a major part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, might be causing permanent damage to his hearing.
As far as your ears are concerned, 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?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem related to aging, but the latest research is discovering 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 dangers of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it typically involves turning the volume down. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume below 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes per day will be about forty hours a week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. But we’re taught to monitor time our whole lives so the majority of us are pretty good at it.
The harder part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe 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 keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?
There are a few non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly recommended you utilize one of many free noise monitoring apps. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your actual dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually around 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So you’ll want to be more aware of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Call us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.