Aiden loves music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be causing permanent damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. But the more hazardous listening choice is frequently the one most of us choose.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more recent research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially 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 disregarded by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music on max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still fine but lower the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. That may seem 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 rather good at it.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you track the volume of your tunes?
There are some non-intrusive, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly recommended. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant 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. If you happen to listen to some music above 80dB, remember to minimize your exposure. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Call us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.