Protect Your Hearing: Earphone Listening Tips
If you think hearing loss only happens to older people, you may be surprised to discover that today 1 out of every 5 teens has some amount of hearing loss in the US. Furthermore, the rate of hearing loss in teens is 30 percent higher than it was in the 1980s and 90s.
It should come as no great surprise then that this has caught the notice of the World Health Organization, who in answer issued a report notifying us that 1.1 billion teens and young adults worldwide are at risk for hearing loss from harmful listening practices.
Those dangerous practices include attending deafening sporting events and concerts without hearing protection, along with the unsafe use of earphones.
But it’s the use of headphones that could very well be the most significant threat.
Think about how frequently we all listen to music since it became transportable. We listen in the car, in the workplace, at the gym, and at home. We listen while out for a walk and even while falling asleep. We can combine music into nearly every aspect of our lives.
That quantity of exposure—if you’re not careful—can slowly and silently steal your hearing at a young age, leading to hearing aids later in life.
And considering that no one’s prepared to forfeit music, we have to uncover other ways to protect our hearing. Luckily, there are simple preventative measures we can all take.
The following are three vital safety tips you can make use of to protect your hearing without compromising your music.
1. Limit Volume
Any sound louder than 85 decibels can produce permanent hearing loss, but you don’t need to buy yourself a sound meter to measure the decibel level of your music.
Instead, a good rule of thumb is to keep your music player volume at no higher than 60 percent of the max volume. Any higher and you’ll likely be over the 85-decibel ceiling.
In fact, at their loudest, MP3 music players can pump out more than 105 decibels. And since the decibel scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, 105 decibels is approximately 100 times as intense as 85.
An additional tip: normal conversation registers at about 60 decibels. Therefore, if while listening to music you have to raise your voice when speaking to someone, that’s a good signal that you should turn down the volume.
2. Limit the Time
Hearing injury is not only a function of volume; it’s also a function of time. The longer you subject your ears to loud sounds, the more extensive the injury can be.
Which brings us to the next rule of thumb: the 60/60 rule. We previously recommended that you keep your MP3 player volume at 60 percent of its max volume. The other component is making sure you limit the listening time to under 60 minutes a day at this volume. And bear in mind that lower volumes can handle longer listening times.
Taking regular rest breaks from the sound is also important, as 60 decibels without interruption for two hours can be a lot more damaging than four half-hour intervals distributed throughout the day.
3. Select the Appropriate Headphones
The reason many of us have a hard time keeping our music player volume at under 60 percent of its max is a consequence of background noise. As environmental noise increases, like in a busy fitness center, we have to compensate by boosting the music volume.
The remedy to this is the usage of noise-cancelling headphones. If background noise is lessened, sound volume can be reduced, and high-quality music can be enjoyed at lower volumes.
Low-quality earbuds, in contrast, have the twin disadvantage of being closer to your eardrum and being incapable of limiting background noise. The quality of sound is diminished as well, and coupled with the distracting external sound, increasing the volume is the only way to compensate.
The bottom line: it’s well worth the money to spend money on a pair of high quality headphones, preferably ones that have noise-cancelling capability. That way, you can stick to the 60/60 rule without sacrificing the quality of your music and, more importantly, your hearing down the road.