If you enjoy listening to music through headphones or earbuds while you’re working at your job, working out at the gym or doing any other activities, it’s important to know how to do so safely. If your headphones are too loud, it could put you at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Below we review information about this condition as well as some tests that can help you determine if your headphones are too loud.
What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when loud sounds damage the sensory cells within the inner ear.
The inner ear contains the cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. As sound vibrations pass though the ears, the fluid moves the hair cells, which convert the sounds into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it damages or destroys the stereocilia, and once damaged, they do not regenerate. The result it permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can cause hearing loss.” For reference, this is about the volume of passing highway traffic. This level of noise exposure can cause damage with eight or more hours of exposure. Your headphones probably max out around 100 dB, which can cause permanent damage in as little as five minutes!
How Can I Tell if My Headphones Are Too Loud?
Below are some tests to see if your headphones are too loud:
- Hold them out in front of you. If you can hear your music playing with your headphones at arm’s length, it’s too loud.
- Check the volume bar. The golden rule of listening is you should listen at no more than 60% of your device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time. Make sure the volume is set within the bottom two-thirds of the bar.
- Make sure you can hear others. You should be able to hear someone speaking to you even while your music is playing.
- Use a sound meter. These devices can be picked up at retail electronics stores or ordered online. Simply put the tip of the sound meter in the cup of your headphones and check the digital display. It should be below 85 dB.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Advantage ENT & Audiology today.