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 an important 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, video games, you name it. His headphones are just about always on, his life a totally soundtracked affair. But lasting hearing damage might be happening as a result of the very loud immersive music he enjoys.

For your ears, there are healthy ways to listen to music and hazardous ways to listen to music. However, the majority of us pick the more hazardous listening choice.

How can listening to music lead to hearing loss?

As time passes, loud noises can cause deterioration of your hearing abilities. Typically, we think of aging as the primary cause of hearing loss, but current research is revealing that hearing loss isn’t an intrinsic 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 vulnerable to noise-induced damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be ignored by younger adults. So because of widespread high volume headphone use, there has become an epidemic of hearing loss in young individuals.

Is there a safe way to enjoy music?

It’s obviously hazardous to listen to music at max volume. But there is a safer way to listen to your tunes, and it normally involves turning down the volume. Here are a couple of general recommendations:

  • For adults: Keep the volume at less than 80dB and for no more than 40 hours a week..
  • For teens and young children: 40 hours is still okay but lower the volume to 75dB.

Forty hours every week is about five hours and forty minutes per day. Though that might seem like a while, it can feel like it passes quite quickly. Even still, most individuals have a fairly solid concept of keeping track of time, it’s something we’re trained to do effectively from a really young age.

Monitoring volume is a little less user-friendly. On most smart devices, smartphones, and TVs, volume is not calculated in decibels. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. Perhaps it’s 1-100. But maybe it’s 1-16. You may not have any idea how close to max volume you are or even what max volume on your device is.

How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?

It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but luckily there are some non-intrusive ways to know how loud the volume is. Distinguishing 75 from, let’s say, 80 decibels is even more perplexing.

So utilizing one of the numerous noise free monitoring apps is greatly recommended. 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 alterations. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, let you know when the volume goes too high.

The volume of a garbage disposal

Generally speaking, 80 dB is about as noisy as your garbage disposal or your dishwasher. That’s not too loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s an important observation.

So you’ll want to be more aware of those times when you’re moving beyond that volume threshold. If you do listen to some music above 80dB, don’t forget to limit your exposure. Maybe 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 develop hearing problems over the long term. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be aware of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more informed your decision-making will be. And hopefully, those decisions lean towards safer listening.

Still have questions about safe listening? Call 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.