Aiden loves music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, may be contributing to lasting harm to his hearing.
There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. But the more hazardous listening choice is frequently the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but the latest research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the outcome 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 harm from high volume is more likely to be ignored by young adults. So because of widespread high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.
Can you listen to music safely?
It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music on max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it typically involves turning the volume down. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- For adults: 40 hours or less of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume below 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours every week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that might seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty sound concept 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 intuitive. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume isn’t calculated in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You might not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you track the volume of your tunes?
There are a few non-intrusive, simple ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you utilize one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Or, when listening to music, you can also modify your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can handle without damage.
So you’ll want to be more mindful of those times when you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe limit loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing problems over the long run. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to go over more options.