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

Music is an important part of Aiden’s life. While he’s out jogging, he’s listening to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for everything he does: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a completely soundtracked affair. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, may be causing irreversible damage to his hearing.

For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and unsafe ways to listen to music. However, most of us pick the more hazardous listening choice.

How can listening to music lead to hearing loss?

Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. Normally, we think of aging as the principal cause of hearing loss, but more and more research suggests that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything intrinsic to the process of aging.

It also turns out that younger ears are particularly vulnerable to noise-related damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by younger adults. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.

Is there a safe way to enjoy music?

It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it usually involves turning the volume down. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:

  • For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 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 every week. Though that might seem like a while, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. But we’re taught to monitor time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.

The more challenging part is monitoring your volume. Volume isn’t gauged in decibels on most smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It could be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have any clue what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.

How can you listen to tunes while monitoring your volume?

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. Differentiating 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.

That’s why it’s greatly suggested you use one of numerous cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be obtainable from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally around 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can handle without damage.

So pay close attention and try to stay clear of 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 problems. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result. Your decision making will be more informed the more aware you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Call us to go over 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.