How much time do you spend listening to music each day? How loudly? These are questions that, if you enjoy your portable music player, you should be asking yourself. As I’m writing this, I’ve got my headphones on — and I just turned the volume down a little.
On average, I probably spend 4 hours a day rocking out (or tuning out) with my headphones on — as I’m sure many of you do — so when I learned about noise-induced hearing loss, I figured it was something worth listening to.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association reports that an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, which can result from exposure to loud noises, such as from chainsaws, firearms, live concerts, and more. Listening to music for too long and at too high of a volume can also cause noise-induced hearing loss. Experts say that noise above 85 decibels (about the sound level of busy traffic) can permanently damage hearing.
What’s a music-lover to do?
Keep your headphones on (maybe not for as long), but be mindful of your listening habits. As a general rule of thumb, the Dangerous Decibels Project recommends listening for no more than 90 minutes when you have your portable music player at 80% volume. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association advises that it is safe to listen for up to 12 hours at 85 dB (that’s the busy traffic equivalent), 8 hours at 90 dB (lawnmower), 4 hours at 95 dB (motorcycle), 2 hours at 100 dB (snowmobile), 1 hour at 105 dB (chainsaw), or 30 minutes at 110 dB (rock concert).
You can take listening breaks to avoid extended exposure to louder to sound levels. Noise- isolating headphones also tend to be better at blocking out ambient noise, so they can help you keep the volume of your music lower. Check out the top-rated Klipsch Image S3 in-ear headphones or the luxurious Bowers & Wilkins P5 over-the-ear headphones.
Your ears will thank you.