Hearing Health Blog

Woman with long dark hair relaxing in a chair in the park listening to headphones

Aiden loves music. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But permanent hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. However, the majority of us choose the more dangerous listening choice.

How can listening to music result in hearing loss?

Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used 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 getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.

It also turns out that younger ears are particularly vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, young adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.

Is there a safe way to enjoy music?

It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it usually involves turning the volume down. The general recommendations 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: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.

About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours a week. Though that might seem like a long time, it can feel like it passes rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly solid concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do efficiently from a really young age.

The more challenging part is keeping track of your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and TVs, volume is not calculated in decibels. It’s measured on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You might have no clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.

How can you listen to tunes while keeping track of your volume?

It’s not really 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 more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.

That’s why it’s highly recommended you use one of many cost-free noise monitoring apps. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you 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 proper settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can take without damage.

So you’ll want to be more mindful of those times when you’re going beyond that volume threshold. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song rather than an album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Give us a call to go over more options.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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