Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, may be causing lasting damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. However, most of us opt for the more hazardous listening choice.
How does listening to music lead to hearing loss?
As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more and more research indicates that it’s actually the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything intrinsic to the aging process.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, younger adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term dangers of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Can you listen to music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of general guidelines:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours every week. Though that could seem like a long time, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our entire lives so the majority of us are pretty good at it.
The more challenging part is keeping track of your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. Or it may be 1-10. You might have no clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to music while monitoring your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly suggested you use one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises around you. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a significant observation.
So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to minimize your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the whole album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing problems over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Call us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.