Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a fully soundtracked affair. But lasting hearing damage could be happening as a consequence of the very loud immersive music he loves.
For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. But the more dangerous listening choice is usually the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
As time passes, loud noises can lead to deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the main cause of hearing loss, but more and more research reveals that it’s actually the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the issue here and not anything intrinsic to the process of aging.
It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, after all). 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.
Is there a safe way to enjoy music?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But merely turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:
- For adults: 40 hours or less of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume below 80dB.
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 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 rapidly. But we’re trained to monitor time our entire lives so most of us are pretty good at it.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume isn’t measured in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. It could be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. 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?
There are a few non-intrusive, easy ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.
That’s why it’s highly suggested you utilize one of numerous cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. 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 generally around 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant 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 going beyond that decibel threshold. If you do listen to some music beyond 80dB, remember to minimize your exposure. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. The more you can be aware of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Contact us if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.