Music is a major part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage could be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. Unfortunately, the majority of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can listening to music cause hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. Typically, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent 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-induced damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be ignored by younger adults. 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 listen to music?
Unrestricted max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to listen to music. But simply turning down the volume is a safer way to listen. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still fine but decrease the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours every week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that may seem like a long time, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you listen to tunes while monitoring your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to determine 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 determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly advisable. 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 actual dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can take 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 over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to develop hearing problems over the long term. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to go over more options.