Aiden loves music. While he’s out running, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be contributing to irreversible harm to his hearing.
As far as your ears are concerned, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. But the more hazardous listening option is often the one most of us choose.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Over time, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more and more research reveals that it’s really the accumulation of noise-related damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in 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, young adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term dangers of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.
Can you listen to music safely?
It’s obviously dangerous to enjoy music on max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours 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 keep the volume level below 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours every week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather rapidly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our whole lives so most of us are rather good at it.
Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume isn’t measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You may have no idea what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.
How can you track the volume of your tunes?
It’s not very easy to know how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly advisable. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. In this way, you can make real-time adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.
So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times when you’re going beyond that volume threshold. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing problems over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. 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.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to go over more options.