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

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, video games, 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, may be causing lasting damage to his hearing.

For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. However, most of us choose the more dangerous listening choice.

How can listening to music cause hearing loss?

As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue 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.

It also turns out that younger ears are particularly susceptible to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, young adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term risks of high volume. So because of widespread high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in younger people.

Can you enjoy music safely?

It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music at max volume. But simply turning the volume down is a less dangerous 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: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.

Forty hours every week translates into about five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that could seem like a while, it can seem to pass quite quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do successfully from a really young age.

Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might have no clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.

How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?

It’s not really easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more puzzling.

That’s why it’s highly recommended you utilize one of many free noise monitoring apps. Real-time volumes of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your actual dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will efficiently let you know that your volume is too loud.

As loud as a garbage disposal

Typically, 80 dB is about as loud as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes higher than this threshold so it’s a significant observation.

So you’ll want to be more mindful of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. If you happen to listen to some music beyond 80dB, don’t forget to minimize your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song rather than an album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more educated the more aware you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about safe listening? Give us a call to explore more options.

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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.