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

Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His headphones are pretty much always on, his life a totally soundtracked event. But lasting hearing damage could be happening as a consequence of the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. However, most of us choose the more hazardous listening choice.

How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?

Over time, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but more recent research is discovering 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 especially vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, younger adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.

Can you listen to music safely?

Unregulated max volume is obviously the “dangerous” way to listen to music. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it typically 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 per day will give you about forty hours a week. Though that may seem like a while, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our whole lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.

Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on the majority of smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You may have no clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.

How can you monitor the volume of your music?

It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but thankfully there are a few non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.

So utilizing one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is highly suggested. 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 adjustments while monitoring your real dB level. Or, while listening to music, you can also modify your settings in your smartphone which will efficiently let you know that your volume is too high.

As loud as a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can handle without damage.

So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe minimize loud listening to a song instead of an album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be aware of when your ears are entering 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.

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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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