Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a completely soundtracked affair. But the very thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, might be contributing to irreversible harm to his hearing.
For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. However, most of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How does listening to music result in hearing loss?
Over time, loud noises can lead to deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, but more and more research indicates that it’s actually the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything inherent in the aging process.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-related damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by younger adults. So because of widespread high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger individuals.
Can you listen to music safely?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music on max volume. But merely turning the volume down is a safer way to listen. Here are a couple of general guidelines:
- 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: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
Forty hours every week is about five hours and forty minutes per day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. But we’re trained to monitor time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on the majority of smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It could be 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You might not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to music while keeping track of your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, easy ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
So using 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. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud 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 over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. 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.