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 a major part of Aiden’s life. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora while jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, gaming, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a fully soundtracked event. But permanent hearing damage may 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 unsafe ways to listen to music. But the more hazardous listening choice is frequently the one most of us choose.

How can listening to music cause hearing loss?

Your ability to hear can be compromised over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re used to thinking of hearing loss as a problem associated with aging, but the latest research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of getting older but is instead, the result of accumulated noise damage.

Younger ears that are still developing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, young adults are more inclined to be dismissive of the long-term hazards of high volume. So there’s an epidemic of younger people with hearing loss thanks, in part, to high volume headphone use.

Is there a safe way to listen to music?

It’s obviously dangerous to listen to music at max volume. But there is a safer way to enjoy your tunes, and it typically involves turning down the volume. The general guidelines for safe volumes are:

  • For adults: Keep the volume at no more than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours per week.
  • For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.

Forty hours per week translates into about five hours and forty minutes a day. Though that might seem like a long time, it can feel like it passes rather quickly. Even still, most individuals have a pretty reliable idea of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a really young age.

The harder part is keeping track of your volume. On most smart devices, computers, and televisions, volume is not measured in decibels. It’s calculated on some arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. Or it could be 1-10. You might not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.

How can you listen to music 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 tell how loud the volume is. It’s even more difficult to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.

That’s why it’s highly recommended you use one of many free noise monitoring apps. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises around you. In this way, you can make real-time alterations while monitoring your real dB level. Or, when listening to music, you can also adjust your settings in your smartphone which will automatically let you know that your volume is too loud.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Generally, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. It’s a significant observation because 80dB is about as loud as your ears can cope with without damage.

So pay close attention and try to stay clear of noise above this volume. If you happen to listen to some music beyond 80dB, remember to limit your exposure. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the whole album.

Over time, loud listening will cause hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the outcome. The more you can be conscious of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.

Still have questions about safe listening? Contact us to go over 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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