Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Noise-related hearing loss doesn’t just affect individuals who work in loud surroundings, such as construction workers or heavy metal roadies. Recreation related noise exposure can be just as dangerous as work related noise exposure. What type of exposure are we dealing with? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything else that you would listen to through earbuds or headphones.

You might be alarmed to discover that a mobile device can go that loud. The typical pain threshold for human hearing is about 150 db which is well within the range of these devices. This is the volume where noise starts to literally hurt your ears. So what can you do to protect against this sort of noise-related loss of hearing?

It’s relevant here to think about the volume. A simple shorthand that’s widely suggested is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at or below 60% for 60 minutes or less in a single session (because how long you listen for matters, too).

Make a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

If you have hearing aids, you’re more than likely streaming your mobile device right to your hearing aids, so be sure the volume is not too loud or that you’re not trying to drown out other sounds with your music. And there are better ways to listen to music so consult us about that as well. Hearing aids aren’t created to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if you’re really into music, you may have noticed this. While listening to music, we can most likely make various modifications to help enhance the quality of sound and lessen the feedback.

What Are The Right Headphones For You?

If you don’t own hearing aids, there are many options for getting headphones. There are various things to consider, although it’s mostly a matter of personal preference.

Over-the-Ear Headphones

While the foam-covered earpieces that was included with your old Walkman are generally no longer used, over-the-ear headphones have made a comeback. They have a lot of options in color and style, are usually endorsed by celebrities, and can be unexpectedly pricey. And these headphones go over the entire ear limiting out noise, unlike those old foam ones.

Main-stream wisdom is that these are less dangerous than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But the reality is they’re frequently capable of much louder volume 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 should hear (like a car honking). Having said that, because they cancel out outside noise, you can typically decrease the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not so loud that it will harm your ears.

Earbuds

The normal earbuds are well known for inferior quality of sound, but because they come along with your phone many people still use them. Moreover, with newer models that lack a headphone jack, sticking with Apple’s earbuds can just be easier.

Earbuds also don’t cancel out noise so the drawback is, you have a tendency to turn up the sound level. Once again,, though it’s commonly said that earbuds are problematic because you stick them in your ear so their speakers are extremely close to your eardrum, volume is the biggest concern.

Occluding or Isolating Earbuds

Lots of people prefer earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfy than traditional earbuds and more effective at blocking outside sounds. A seal that blocks outside noise from getting in is formed by the rubber tip which conforms to the shape of the ear. But these earbuds can also block out sounds you need to hear and loud volume is still the biggest problem. Needless to say, these won’t work for you if you wear hearing aids.

A number of pairs may need to be evaluated before you find headphones that are what you are looking for. Depending on what you regularly use them for talking on the phone, say, as opposed to listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic requirements. The important thing is to find headphones that make it comfortable for you to enjoy at a safe and secure sound level.

Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Hearing

Is it Safe, How Can I be certain? 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. You can get other apps, but studies has found that the reliability of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for reasons yet unknown, Android-based apps have been shown to be less precise). That motivated NIOSH to develop an app of their own. The app enables you to measure outside sounds, but it’s also possible to measure the sound coming from your device’s speakers, so you will know exactly how much volume your ears are subjected to. You have to do a little work, but putting in place these types of preventative measures can help safeguard your hearing.

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