Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while working, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But irreversible hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he loves.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. Unfortunately, the majority of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can lead to deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem caused by aging, but more recent research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Can you listen to music safely?
Unrestricted max volume is clearly the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
- 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 a week. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by fairly rapidly. Even still, most people have a pretty sound concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do efficiently from a very young age.
The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. Or it might be 1-10. You may have no idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to tunes while keeping track of your volume?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music actually is, because it’s not very easy for us to conceptualize exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises around you. That way you can keep track of the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can handle without damage.
So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. If you happen to listen to some music beyond 80dB, remember to limit your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song instead of an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the consequence. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to go over more options.