Music is an essential part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a fully soundtracked affair. But the exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, might be causing lasting damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. But the more dangerous listening option is usually 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. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but current research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears which are still developing 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 dismissed by younger adults. So because of widespread high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But merely turning the volume down is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic recommendations:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes per day will be about forty hours a week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by fairly rapidly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our whole lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume isn’t calculated in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You may not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you monitor the volume of your music?
It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you use one of many cost-free noise monitoring apps. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can take without damage.
So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe limit loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. 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 hopefully be part of those decisions.
Contact us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.