Aiden loves music. While he’s out running, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, may be causing lasting damage to his hearing.
For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. Regrettably, the majority of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but the latest research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by young 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?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music at max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a safer 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 okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week is about five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our whole lives so the majority of us are pretty good at it.
The harder part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume isn’t measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?
It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can keep track of the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. 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 about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s an important 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. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing problems over the long run. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. Your decision making will be more educated the more aware you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Contact us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.