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

Aiden enjoys music. While he’s out jogging, he listens to Pandora, while working it’s Spotify, and he has a playlist for all his activities: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the very thing that Aiden loves, the loud, immersive music, may be causing permanent 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 hearing loss be caused by listening to music?

Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue related to aging, 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 particularly vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, after all). And yet, younger adults are more likely to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So because of extensive high volume headphone usage, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young people.

Can you enjoy music safely?

Unlimited max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to listen to music. But simply turning the volume down is a less dangerous way to listen. Here are a couple of basic guidelines:

  • For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week..
  • For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.

About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours every week. Though that could seem like a while, it can seem to pass rather quickly. But we’re taught to monitor time our whole lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.

The harder part is monitoring your volume. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume isn’t measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Maybe it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.

How can you monitor 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 know how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.

That’s why it’s greatly suggested you utilize one of many cost-free noise monitoring apps. Real-time volumes 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. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume gets too loud.

As loud as a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s a relevant observation because 80dB is about as much noise as your ears can cope with without damage.

So you’ll want to be extra mindful of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at max volume instead of the entire album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.

Give us a call if you still have questions about the safety of your ears.

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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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