Music is a major part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a totally soundtracked affair. But irreversible hearing damage may be happening as a result 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 usually the one most of us use.
How does listening to music lead to hearing loss?
Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue caused by aging, but more recent research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.
It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-induced damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm 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 enjoy music safely?
Unregulated max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But simply turning down the volume is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic recommendations:
- 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.
Forty hours every week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that could seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly sound idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a really young age.
The more challenging part is keeping track of your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have a clue how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.
How can you track the volume of your tunes?
There are some non-intrusive, simple ways to determine just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to conceptualize exactly what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
That’s why it’s greatly recommended you use one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable 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 correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
As loud as a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.
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 instead of an album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making can be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Call us to go over more options.