Music is a major part of Aiden’s life. While he’s out jogging, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a completely soundtracked affair. But permanent hearing damage may be happening as a consequence of the very loud immersive music he loves.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. But the more hazardous listening choice is often the one most of us choose.
How can listening to music lead to hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but the latest research is discovering that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of aging but is instead, the outcome 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 dismissed by young adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.
Can you enjoy music safely?
Unregulated max volume is clearly the “hazardous” way to listen to music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it normally involves turning the volume down. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:
- For adults: 40 hours or less of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 80dB.
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
Forty hours per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by fairly quickly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our whole lives so most of us are rather good at it.
The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume isn’t calculated in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe 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 listen to music while monitoring your volume?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are a few non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly suggested you utilize one of many cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can keep track of the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Generally, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So pay close attention and try to avoid noise above this volume. And limit 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 outcome. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.