Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. Everything in his 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 harm to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. But the more hazardous listening choice is usually the one most of us use.
How can listening to music lead to 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 related to aging, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by young 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 enjoy music?
Unrestricted max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of general recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but decrease the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week is roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather rapidly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It could be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any clue what the max volume is on your device, 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 actually is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
That’s why it’s greatly recommended you use one of many cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can handle 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 full volume instead of the entire album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. 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.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Call us to explore more options.