Even though we know loud noises can damage hearing, most people turn the music up when they hear their favorite songs come on. With powerful headphones, earbuds, and other audio and listening devices, we are exposing our hearing to powerful sounds throughout the day. This sometimes happens at dangerously high volumes. Because of this, young people are at risk of losing their hearing partially or fully. So, what can you do to enjoy your favorite tunes without damaging your hearing?
Turn it Down
Typical human conversations reach about 60 to 70 decibels. If the voice is much louder than that, the person is shouting or speaking very loudly. Our ears are meant to handle up to 80 decibels for short periods. However, we continuously expose ourselves to volumes louder than this when listening to music.
Consider that the typical headphones can reach noise levels of over 100 decibels, and you start seeing where the problem lies. Listening to music at such volumes for more than 15 minutes is damaging. This is why the CDC recommends that you listen at about 60% of your device’s maximum volume.
This should be about 60 decibels for about 60 minutes every day. If you want to listen for longer, you have to turn the volume down. Most devices will warn you about this and let you know that you have been listening for a prolonged period at high volumes and that you should turn it down or take a break.
Get Custom or High-fidelity Earplugs
We are also exposed to loud music when attending concerts, sports, and other types of events. Because there is nothing you can do to turn down the volume in such instances, you need to use earplugs. Custom earplugs that are a great fit will keep the noise away, allowing you to preserve your hearing.
If you still want to listen to music at a lower volume or have conversations, consider investing in high-fidelity earplugs. These keep most of the noise out while also allowing you to hear some of it. High-fidelity earplugs are a bit more expensive than other earplugs, but you can find a pair online for about $10.
For musicians and athletes who cannot avoid noisy environments, it is a good idea to invest in custom earplugs. They fit much better and are more durable, reliable, and performant than other earplugs.
Buy Noise-isolating or Noise-cancelling Headphones
Most people turn the volume up because they cannot hear their music. This is because we live in a noisy world and constantly have to deal with noise from cars, trains, buses, and people which makes turning the volume down an impractical option. Fortunately, you can use noise-canceling or isolating headphones to solve this problem.
These headphones block out environmental noise, with some having pass-through audio that allows you to have conversations while still wearing them. It is important to mention that different headphones work better at canceling some noise than others. This means you should read different reviews to find out which noises the pair you are considering blocks.
Consider Other Headphone Types
Another option is over-the-ear and in-the-ear noise-canceling headphones. These work well, but you should not use them when out and about. Since they isolate all noise, that can lead to you not being completely aware of your surroundings which can be dangerous.
Over-the-ear headphones connect to a band on top of the head and do not go inside the ear. They also do not send sound directly into the eardrums thus eliminating the constant vibrations that lead to hearing damage.
Avoid Using Earphones in Loud Environments
Earphones do not do as great a job of keeping noises out like headphones do. For this reason, you might find yourself increasing the volume if you use them in loud or noisy environments. Instead of subjecting your ears to dangerously high volumes, it would be better to wait until you are out of the loud or noisy environment to listen to your music.
Take a Break
Long exposure to music, no matter the volume, is damaging to the ears. Although this process is slower for people who listen at lower volumes, it still happens. It is, therefore, a good idea to protect your ears by taking a break regularly. Put your earphones or headphones off to the side and go do something else.
If you have been to a party or loud concert, you also need to give your ears some time to recover. Do not be quick to go back to listening to music, especially through your headphones. Your ears need about 16 hours to recover from listening to music over 100 decibels. Follow this rule to avoid permanent hearing damage.
Get Your Ears Checked
You might have great habits, but you still need to ensure your hearing is fine. The best way of doing so is to see a hearing care expert in your area. They will administer hearing tests and do an ear check to ensure everything is in order.
In cases where you have hearing loss, the audiologist might start a conversation about hearing aids. You will need these if you have complete hearing loss. It is better to know if your hearing is fine to know where you need to make changes so that you do not need hearing aids soon.
Turn the Volume Down in Your Car
Many people love listening to music in their cars while they drive. Usually, the volume is quite high so they can get a better experience. However, what many people fail to realize is that listening to loud music in a confined space can be much worse than listening at the same volume using headphones.
The reason is that there is nowhere for the sound to go, instead reflecting and bouncing around inside the car. Such music can be perceived to be much louder than it is, with the higher volume and vibrations causing additional damage.
Hearing loss is typically progressive and irreversible. Protect your ears at all costs by avoiding loud music and knowing when your ears need a break.
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