Music: How It Can Affect Your Hearing

Whether you are a member of the Greatest Generation who loves jazz, a Boomer who has listened to Rock most of your life, a Millennial who likes rap, or anything in between, your music choices and length of listening can affect your hearing for a lifetime.

It is just not senior citizens who suffer hearing loss. More than one billion teens and young adults are at risk of losing their hearing, according to WHO (that’s the World Health Organization, not the rock band).*

Just by listening to music at what you probably think is a normal level, or by spending time in loud bars, nightclubs or music and sporting events, you can permanently damage your hearing.

How loud is too loud?

Loudness of a sound is measured in decibels (dB). Experts agree that exposure to noise at or above 85 dB(A) can damage hearing.

  • 100 dB (A) Maximum volume on some mp3 players
  • 110 dB (A) Night club
  • 115 dB (A) Rock concert

Turn Down Those Ear Buds!

When it comes to personal listening devices, the level of damage you can cause to your ears is directly correlated to how long you listen and how loud the sound. “Unsafe levels of sounds can be, for example, exposure to in excess of 85dB for eight hours or 100dB for 15 minutes,” says WHO.

In the end, it’s up to each of us to protect our own hearing. The good news is that it’s easy to do!

Take These Steps to Protect Your Hearing:
  • Turn the volume down. Don’t go above 60% on your smartphone
  • Wear noise canceling earbuds, or better yet, headphones.
  • Take “listening breaks” or only listen to music for an hour a day.
  • Get an app for that. Download a smartphone app to help monitor safe listening levels. Examples of these apps are dBVolumeMeter, TooLoud or deciBel.
  • Instead of earbuds, consider using earphones. And with either, place reasonable restrictions on your listening to music.
  • And the next time you go to a bar, nightclub, or musical concert, use ear protection!

*Sandee LaMotte, special to CNN
Fri March 6, 2015