Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be causing permanent damage to his hearing.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. Unfortunately, the majority of us opt for the more hazardous listening choice.
How can listening to music result in hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem associated with aging, but the latest research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially susceptible to noise-related damage (they’re still developing, after all). 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 use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
Unregulated max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to listen to music. But simply turning the volume down 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 below 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but decrease the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours every week. Though that may seem like a while, it can feel like it passes rather quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty sound concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a very young age.
Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.
How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are a few non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
So utilizing one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. 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. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.
So pay close attention and try to stay clear of noise above this volume. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to explore more options.