Aiden loves music. While he’s out running, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, could be causing lasting harm to his hearing.
There are ways to listen to music that are healthy for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. Unfortunately, most of us opt for the more hazardous listening choice.
How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as a problem related to aging, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-related damage. And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be ignored by young adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger individuals.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
It’s obviously hazardous to enjoy music at max volume. But merely turning the volume down is a safer way to listen. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
- For teens and young children: 40 hours is still fine but decrease the volume to 75dB.
Forty hours per week translates into roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty sound idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do efficiently from a very 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. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may have no clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you listen to music while keeping track of your volume?
There are a few non-intrusive, simple ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not very easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even more difficult to understand 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 actual dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also modify your configurations in your smartphone which will automatically tell you that your volume is too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.
So you’ll want to be more mindful of those times at which you’re moving beyond that volume threshold. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, remember to minimize your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.
Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. The more you can be cognizant of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.
Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us to explore more options.