Music and Headphones: What’s a Healthy Volume?

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

Music is a major 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 all his activities: gaming, gym time, cooking, and everything else. His entire life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But lasting hearing damage could be happening due to the very loud immersive music he loves.

As far as your ears are concerned, there are healthy ways to listen to music and dangerous ways to listen to music. Unfortunately, most of us choose the more hazardous listening choice.

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

Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. Typically, we think of aging as the main cause of hearing loss, but more and more research reveals that it’s really the accumulation of noise-induced damage that is the problem here and not anything inherent in the process of aging.

Younger ears which are still growing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, younger 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?

Unlimited max volume is clearly the “dangerous” way to enjoy music. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it normally involves turning the volume down. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:

  • For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a 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 quite quickly. Even still, most people have a pretty solid idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do efficiently from a very young age.

Keeping track of volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, smartphones, and televisions, volume is not calculated in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. 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?

There are a few non-intrusive, simple ways to figure out just how loud the volume on your music really is, because it’s not all that easy for us to contemplate what 80dB sounds like. It’s even harder to understand the difference between 80 and 75dB.

That’s why it’s greatly suggested you use one of numerous free noise monitoring apps. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will give you real-time readouts on the noises surrounding you. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make alterations. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your configurations in your smartphone which will efficiently tell you that your volume is too loud.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is usually around 80 decibels. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.

So pay close attention and try to stay away from noise above this volume. And minimize your exposure if you do listen to music over 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the entire album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing problems. You can develop tinnitus and hearing loss. Your decision making will be more informed the more mindful you are of when you’re entering the danger zone. And safer listening will ideally be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about keeping your ears safe? Give us a call 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.

Stop struggling to hear conversations. Come see us today. Call or Text