Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Individuals who work in loud settings such as construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only ones affected by noise related hearing loss. Recreation associated noise exposure can be just as dangerous as work related noise exposure. The most prevalent type? Loud sounds heard through headphones, whether it be music, gaming, streaming video, or even an audiobook with the volume turned up.

You might not believe your smartphone or tablet can get that loud. The normal pain threshold for human hearing is around 150 db which is in the range of these devices. Your ears will actually start to hurt at this volume. So what’s the solution for safeguarding your hearing against volume related injury.

The volume level here is essential. A quick shorthand that’s widely recommended is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at or below 60% for no more than 60 minutes in a single session (because the length of sound exposure matters, too).

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

Be certain, if you’re using hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other sounds by cranking your streaming music up too loud. Additionally, consult us about how to best listen to music. Hearing aids aren’t designed to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if you’re really into music, you may have noticed this. We might be able to change the configuration to lessen noise and feedback while maximizing some frequency to enhance the quality of sound while listening to music.

How to Select The Right Headphones

When picking out headphones there are numerous options, specifically if you wear hearing aids. There are various things to consider, although it’s mostly a matter of personal choice.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

While the foam-covered earpieces that was included with your old Walkman are largely a thing of the past, over-the-ear headphones have made a comeback. They have a lot of choices in style and color, are frequently endorsed by celebrities, and can be unexpectedly costly. And unlike those little foam pads, these cover the entire ear, stopping outside noises.

Conventional perception is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But the truth is they’re usually able to reach louder sound than the smaller kind, the speakers are much bigger. In addition, noise-canceling may help you ignore the crying baby on your flight, but in other situations, it can block sounds you need to hear (like a car honking). But on the positive side, you don’t need to compete with outside sound so you can listen to your music at lower levels.

Earbuds

The normal earbuds are widely recognized for poor sound quality, although lots of people still use them because hey, they came with the phone. Particularly, with newer Apple devices, it’s just easier to use the earbuds which were provided with the device because it probably won’t have a headphone jack.

Earbuds also don’t block out noise so the drawback is, you have a tendency to turn up the sound level. It’s generally thought that placing earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main issue but it’s actually the volume.

Noise Blocking Earbuds

Lots of people prefer earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfy than standard earbuds and better at stopping outside sounds. The rubber conforms to the shape of your ear, producing a seal that stops other noises from getting in. Not to sound like a broken record, but these have the same downsides as the other two (volume is the main problem), as well as carrying the same caution as over-the-ear headphones (they can block out warning sounds). And if you use hearing aids, clearly these won’t work for you.

You may have to check out more than one pair before you find headphones that are correct for you. Depending on what you’re most often using them for say talking on the phone, as opposed to listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic expectations. Listening to your music at a healthy volume and finding headphones that assist you in doing that is essential.

Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Hearing

Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? If you have a smartphone, you can get an app for that, you can download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. There are different apps out there, but studies has found that the dependability of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have been shown less accurate). That motivated NIOSH to develop their own app. You can measure outside sounds using the app, but it’s also possible to measure the sound coming from your device’s speakers, so you will learn exactly how much volume your ears are getting. It’s a little bit of work, but taking these types of protective steps can help protect your hearing.