Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be contributing to irreversible damage to his hearing.
For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. Regrettably, most of us choose the more hazardous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, but more recent research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be ignored by young adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger individuals.
Can you listen to 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 normally involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of basic recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still fine but reduce the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours every week is roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather rapidly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly reliable concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do efficiently from a very young age.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It might 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 music while monitoring your volume?
It’s not very 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 understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you use one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises around 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 goes too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s an important 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. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be conscious 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.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.