Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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

Music is an essential 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 permanent hearing damage may be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

There are ways to enjoy music that are healthy for your ears and ways that aren’t so safe. But the more dangerous listening choice is usually the one most of us choose.

How can listening to music cause hearing loss?

Over time, loud noises can lead to deterioration of your hearing abilities. Normally, we think of aging as the main cause of hearing loss, but more and more research indicates that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything intrinsic to the aging process.

It also turns out that younger ears are especially vulnerable to noise-induced damage (they’re still developing, 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 use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.

Can you enjoy music safely?

It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But simply turning the volume down is a safer way to listen. Here are a couple of general guidelines:

  • 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 the volume should still be below 75dB.

About five hours and forty minutes a day will give you about forty hours a week. That may seem like a lot, but it can go by fairly rapidly. Even still, most people have a fairly reliable idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re taught to do effectively from a very young age.

The harder part is keeping track of your volume. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on the majority of smart devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You might not have any idea what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.

How can you monitor the volume of your tunes?

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

So utilizing one of the many noise free monitoring apps is highly recommended. 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 adjustments while monitoring your actual dB level. Your smartphone will, with the correct settings, inform you when the volume goes too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.

So pay close attention and try to stay clear of noise above this volume. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Perhaps 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 conscious of when your ears are going into the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making can be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Contact us 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.
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