Music is a major part of Aiden’s life. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, might be causing permanent harm to his hearing.
For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Unfortunately, the majority of us choose the more hazardous listening choice.
How does listening to music cause hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more and more research indicates that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything intrinsic to the aging process.
Younger ears which are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be ignored by younger adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But simply turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of general recommendations:
- 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 fine but lower the volume to 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 rapidly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty sound concept 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 measured in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may have no clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.
How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?
It’s not really easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily 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 utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly recommended. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud 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, remember to minimize your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. Your decision making will be more informed the more aware you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.