Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage might 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 dangerous ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening option is often the one most of us choose.
How does listening to music result in hearing loss?
Over time, loud noises can lead to deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but more and more research suggests that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the issue here and not anything intrinsic to the aging process.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-related 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 individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But simply turning down the volume is a safer way to listen. Here are a couple of basic recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
Forty hours per week translates into about five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a while, it can feel like it passes rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do successfully from a really young age.
Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume isn’t measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You may 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 music while monitoring your volume?
It’s not really easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly advisable. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises around you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your actual dB level. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. 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 entire album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to have hearing problems over the long term. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making can be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to go over more options.