Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, could be causing lasting harm to his hearing.
For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. But the more hazardous listening option is often the one most of us choose.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem associated with aging, but more recent research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still growing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-related damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be disregarded by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Can you enjoy music safely?
Unlimited max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it normally involves turning the volume down. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but keep the volume level below 75dB.
Forty hours per week is roughly five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that may seem like a long time, it can seem to pass quite quickly. But we’re taught to monitor time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.
The more challenging part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on the majority of smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 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 keep tabs on the volume of your music?
It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are some non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you use one of many free noise monitoring apps. 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 track the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, inform you when the volume goes too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will start to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. 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 outcome. The more you can be cognizant 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 the safety of your ears.