Many people listen to their portable music player while commuting, working out, or waiting for an appointment.
What they may not realize, however, is that listening to music through headphones may damage hearing. According to headphones and hearing loss statistics, 17% of adults, along with 12.5% of children and adolescents, have hearing loss that may be caused by excessive exposure to noise.
How loud is too loud?
According to the Dangerous Decibels Campaign from the Oregon Health and Science University, the accepted standards for exposure to loud noise over a continuous time before hearing loss occurs is pegged at 8 hours for 85 dB. For every 3 dB increase above 85 dB, the permissible time of exposure is cut in half. Personal music players can reach up to 110 dB or more.
Most of the hearing loss caused by headphones may fall between 16 to 24 dB, or the volume amounting to a whisper. But if you use ear buds with the volume cranked up to 90%, even two hours a day can cause hearing loss of up to 40 dB over a period of time. It can cause problems when the background noise goes up and can really affect your ability to follow conversations and communicate with others.
Listening to music at a loud volume can set you on a fast track to permanent hearing damage. Habitually listening to music at as loud as 85 dB can permanently damage the microscopic hair cells in the inner ear.
Prolonged exposure to loud noise may cause hearing loss, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot use your music player.
What can you do to save your hearing?
Personal music players are great, and you don’t have to give them up to save your hearing. These practical tips will help you prevent headphone-related hearing loss.
- Don’t increase the volume to more than 70% of the maximum limit. Never crank it up to the max.
- If you absolutely must listen to loud music, do it only for a very short time. Give your ears a chance to recover between sessions.
- If your device supports it, use the volume limit setting to prevent accidentally increasing the volume.
- Use noise-canceling headphones, which will reduce the background noise, so you don’t have to increase the volume to hear the song.
- Try not to use earbuds. Headphones that sit over the ear are a much better alternative than earbuds that are stuck deep inside the ear canal.
- Use earplugs at music concerts, regardless of how far you are from the stage.
- Have your hearing tested regularly to catch damage early