Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a completely soundtracked event. But the exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, could be causing irreversible harm to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. However, most of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but current research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still growing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Can you listen to music safely?
Unregulated max volume is clearly the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But simply turning the volume down is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- 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 okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours every week is about five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a while, it can seem to pass rather quickly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our whole lives so most of us are pretty good at it.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?
There are some non-intrusive, easy ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly suggested you utilize one of numerous cost-free noise monitoring apps. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your actual dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can cope with without damage.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times at which you’re moving beyond that volume threshold. If you happen to listen to some music beyond 80dB, don’t forget to minimize your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. 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.
Still have questions about safe listening? Contact us to go over more options.