Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, may be causing permanent harm to his hearing.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. Regrettably, most of us pick the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the main cause of hearing loss, but more and more research indicates that it’s actually the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything intrinsic to the aging process.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, young adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So because of widespread high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger people.
Can you enjoy music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it usually involves turning the volume down. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- 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: 40 hours is still fine but decrease the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours a week. Though that may seem like a while, it can seem to pass rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do successfully from a really young age.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It could be 1-100. Or it may be 1-10. You might not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you listen to tunes while monitoring your volume?
It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are some non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly advisable. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises around you. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times when you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the entire album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.