Hearing Health Blog

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

Aiden loves music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: gaming, cooking, gym time, and everything else. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But permanent hearing damage might be happening due to the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

For your ears, there are safe ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. Regrettably, most of us opt for the more dangerous listening choice.

How can listening to music cause hearing loss?

Over time, loud noises can lead to degeneration of your hearing abilities. Typically, we think of aging as the main cause of hearing loss, but current research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic part of aging but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.

Younger ears which are still growing are, as it turns out, more vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, younger adults are more inclined 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 enjoy music at max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it typically involves turning down the volume. The general recommendations 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 the volume should still be below 75dB.

About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours every week. That seems like a lot, but it can go by rather quickly. But we’re taught to keep track of time our entire lives so most of us are rather good at it.

Keeping track of volume is a little less intuitive. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume isn’t measured in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You may have no idea what the max volume is on your device, 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 a few non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.

That’s why it’s greatly recommended you utilize one of many free noise monitoring apps. Real-time readouts of the noise around you will be available from both iPhone and Android apps. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Or, while listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is typically about 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can handle without damage.

So you’ll want to be extra aware of those times when you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. If you happen to listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to limit your exposure. Maybe limit loud listening to a song instead of an album.

Listening to music at a higher volume can and will cause you to have hearing issues over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. Your decision making will be more educated the more mindful you are of when you’re going into the danger zone. And ideally, those decisions lean towards safer listening.

Call us if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.

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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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