Music is an essential 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 headphones are almost always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But permanent hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Regrettably, the majority of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue caused by aging, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by younger adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music on max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- 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 a week. Though that might seem like a long time, it can feel like it passes rather quickly. But we’re trained to monitor time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. 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 monitor the volume of your tunes?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So utilizing one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is highly recommended. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically around 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. Your decision making will be more informed the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Contact us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.