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  • Writer's pictureLana Joseph

When Using Headphones, How Loud Is Too Loud?

People are on their headphones quite frequently, whether they're going for a run, taking the bus, or working at their computer. Listening to music is often fun and therapeutic, but cranking the volume full-blast can damage your hearing. Earbuds present the additional hazard of delivering sound straight to your eardrum, which results in it sounding louder than ambient noise. To help protect your hearing, you need to be careful when using headphones.

Pair of wireless headphones against a bright yellow backdrop

How Much Volume Can Your Ears Withstand?

Sound levels are measured in decibels. Every day, people are subjected to various degrees of sound, depending on their place of work, area of residence, and extracurricular activities. According to the National Institute of Health, sounds at or below 70 decibels are generally considered to be safe, and, on the other end, our ears can be damaged from noises at just 85 decibels; for context, normal conversation is usually 60 decibels and a rock concert is often 120. The longer your ears are subjected to loud noises, the greater the risk they'll be damaged and lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

Check Volume Levels

There are several ways to make sure your music isn't too loud for your ears. A general rule of thumb is that if other people can hear your music when your headphones are on, it's too loud. Have a friend sit next to you while you have your earbuds in, and ask if they can hear your music. You can also remove your headphones and determine if you can still hear your music even when it's not in your ear. In addition, if you play your music through your smartphone, you can use an app that monitors the volume level and suggests if it gets too loud for your ears. On iPhones, the pre-programmed Health app can do this for you.

Noise-induced hearing loss is a gradual process that usually takes years, depending on how often you're exposed to loud noises. We're constantly subjected to loud noises in our daily life, from walking by construction zones to dining at a loud restaurant. If you want to protect your hearing in loud situations, earplugs or custom earmolds can reduce sounds by up to 20 decibels. High Level Speech & Hearing Center offers earmolds and custom ear monitors that allow you to still hear the nuance of a musical performance or conversation while helping to protect your ears. In addition, if you've noticed that you aren't hearing as well as you used to, we provide hearing services and hearing aids to patients in the greater New Orleans area. Contact us to request a custom earmold or to schedule a hearing assessment.

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