Music is an important 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 exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, might be contributing to permanent damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are healthy for your ears and ways that are not so safe. Unfortunately, the majority of us pick the more hazardous listening choice.
How does listening to music result in hearing loss?
Over time, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem caused by aging, but more and more research indicates that it’s actually the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.
Younger ears that are still developing 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 there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
Unlimited max volume is obviously the “dangerous” way to listen to music. But merely turning the volume down is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic 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 fine but lower the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours a week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty sound concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a really young age.
Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have any clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?
It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
That’s why it’s greatly recommended you use one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can keep track of the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can handle without damage.
So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times when you’re going beyond that decibel threshold. And limit 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 ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Give us a call if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.