Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. 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, could be causing lasting damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are healthy for your ears and ways that are not so safe. Unfortunately, most of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How can listening to music cause hearing loss?
Over time, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem related to aging, but more and more research suggests that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.
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 dismissed by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it usually involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of general 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: 40 hours is still okay but decrease the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours every week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do effectively from a really young age.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume is not calculated in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may 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, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate exactly what 80dB sounds like. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly suggested. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 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 much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times when you’re going beyond that decibel threshold. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. Your decision making will be more informed the more aware you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Call us to explore more options.