Music is an essential part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a completely soundtracked event. But permanent hearing damage might be happening as a consequence of the very loud immersive music he loves.
For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. But the more hazardous listening choice is usually the one most of us choose.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but the latest research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be ignored by younger adults. So because of widespread high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music on max volume. But merely turning the volume down is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- 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 okay but decrease the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week is about five hours and forty minutes per day. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. Even still, most people have a fairly sound concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do successfully from a very young age.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. Or it may be 1-10. You may have no idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to music while monitoring your volume?
It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are some 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 greatly recommended you utilize one of many free noise monitoring apps. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your actual dB level. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can take without damage.
So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long run. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be aware of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to go over more options.