Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. His headphones are almost always on, his life a totally soundtracked event. But lasting hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening choice is often the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, but more and more research suggests that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term dangers of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.
Can you enjoy music safely?
Unlimited max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to listen to music. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- 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 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 pretty sound idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a very young age.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you monitor the volume of your music?
There are some non-intrusive, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music actually 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 utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly advisable. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can keep track of 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 gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can cope with without damage.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long term. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making will be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about safe listening? Call us to explore more options.