Music is an essential 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. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage might be happening due to the very loud immersive music he loves.
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 often the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem caused by aging, but more and more research indicates that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything intrinsic to the process of aging.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, young adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger people.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music on max volume. But simply turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of general recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
Forty hours every week is about five hours and forty minutes a day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. But we’re trained to monitor time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume isn’t calculated in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you listen to music while keeping track of your volume?
It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
That’s why it’s highly recommended you utilize one of numerous cost-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. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as much noise 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 minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Call us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.