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. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be causing lasting harm to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. But the more dangerous listening option is usually the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, 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 process of aging.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually 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 lower than 80dB.
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but decrease the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do efficiently from a very young age.
Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might have no idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to tunes while keeping track of your volume?
It’s not really easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are some non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly suggested. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, let you know when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.
So pay close attention and try to stay clear of noise above this volume. If you happen to listen to some music beyond 80dB, don’t forget to limit your exposure. Perhaps 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 issues over the long run. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to go over more options.