With today’s technology, you can listen to music in various ways. Instead of bothering those around you with your loud music, you can use earbuds, headphones, Bluetooth devices, or earphones plugged into your computer, tablet, smart phone, MP3 player, iPod, or other music players.
Though listening to loud music through headphones or earbuds can allow you to privately enjoy your favorite musicians anywhere, it can potentially damage your hearing.
Though earbuds and headphones might be convenient, these types of portable speakers are causing irreversible hearing damage at an alarming rate. And this permanent hearing loss can progress quickly if left unrecognized and untreated.
Fortunately, this type of hearing damage is completely preventable.
How loud music can potentially damage your hearing
Noise-induced hearing loss comes from two types of sound. The first is earsplitting, sudden bursts of noise, such as fireworks. And the second, which we’ll discuss here, is ongoing exposure, such as listening to loud music over time.
Earbuds, in particular, can cause hearing damage due to the fact that they sit within the ear canal. Having audio signals that close to your eardrum can increase the decibel level in a surprising way.
And considering music players are constantly improving and being designed with better battery lives, people can listen to loud music for longer periods of time without break. Continuous sound can cause hearing loss, at certain levels.
Ideal volume levels when using headphones/earbuds
Generally speaking, any sound that is higher than 85 decibels can damage your hearing, especially when exposed for longer periods of time. Example of noises that are approximately 85 decibels include a vacuum cleaner, a noisy restaurant, or a busy city street.
Follow the 60/60 rule for safe listening: Ensure that your volume is kept below 60% and that you’re limiting yourself to 60 minutes a day. Depending on your music player’s volume settings, however, even 60% maybe be too loud. A good rule of thumb is to turn down your volume just a bit once you think the volume level is perfect.
And remember, the louder your music, the shorter amount of time you should be listening to it in order to avoid noise-induced hearing loss. If you’re going to be listening to music while at the gym for two hours, for example, go down to 30%, but feel free to put it up to 60% if you’re just going to be using your music player for a short while.
Best practice behaviors when listening to music with a headset
When using a listening device, it’s best to always be careful about the overall sound volume and the length of time you are listening. You may consider investing in custom-made earbuds, which are created to fit your unique ear canal shape and size. They create a more secure fit, block out extraneous noise, and often work well for those individuals who have small ear canals where typical earbuds don’t work.
If you’re concerned about hearing damage caused by loud music or loud noise, Associated Audiologists can help. Request an appointment to establish a baseline of your hearing ability and to discuss prevention options for noise-induced hearing loss.