What’s a Healthy Volume to Listen to Music on Your Headphones?

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 running, 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 event. But lasting hearing damage might be happening due to the very loud immersive music he loves.

There are ways to listen to music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. But the more hazardous listening option is often the one most of us choose.

How can hearing loss be the result of listening to music?

Over time, loud noises can cause degeneration of your hearing abilities. Typically, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but more and more research suggests that it’s actually 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 especially susceptible to noise-induced damage (they’re still growing, after all). And yet, the long-term damage from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.

Can you listen to music safely?

Unregulated max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But simply turning down the volume is a safer way to listen. 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: 40 hours is still fine but lower the volume to 75dB.

Forty hours every week is roughly five hours and forty minutes per day. That seems like a lot, but it can go by fairly quickly. But we’re conditioned to keep track of time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.

Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not calculated in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It may be 1-100. But perhaps it’s 1-16. You may not have any clue what the max volume is on your device, or how close to the max you are.

How can you track the volume of your music?

It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are some 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. These apps, widely available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can monitor the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume gets too loud.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not too loud. It’s an important observation because 80dB is about as much noise 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. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Perhaps listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the entire 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. The more you can be cognizant 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? Call us to explore more options.

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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