Last updated on Apr 11, 2018
We’ve all wondered if music played too loudly from headphones can damage your hearing. Well, the answer is a definite yes. In the past, these noise concerns were mainly associated with industrial workers who experienced prolonged exposure to high noise levels without adequate protective equipment. Now these concerns are spilling over onto people who listen to music too loudly with headphones.
Don’t assume this is only affecting teenagers and children though. According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss is one of the leading causes of disability in adults, with noise induced hearing loss being the second largest cause. No matter your age, you need to take precautions when listening to music with your headphones.
The problem comes from the maximum volume level that smartphones and media players can play audio. Some of these devices can reach up to 115 decibels, roughly the same as a chainsaw. At this level it takes less than a minute to do permanent damage to your ears. There are tiny, very sensitive, hairs inside your ears that are responsible for hearing. When these are subjected to prolonged exposure to loud noise they can become damaged. This process is gradual, but unfortunately once these hairs are damaged, they don’t grow back.
Recent US studies have shown a worrying trend stating that noise induced hearing loss is increasing among teenagers. As smartphones and media players become more and more common, the ability to damage one’s hearing increases. Even a slight hearing loss can negatively affect a child’s language development and academic progress.
So how loud is just too loud? Generally, anything over 85 decibels is too loud. Any prolonged exposure at or above this level is likely to cause damage to your hearing. The louder the volume, the less time it takes for permanent damage to occur.
Some smartphones allow you to monitor how loud your audio is being played. There are apps you can download that will make sure your audio isn’t at a level that can cause hearing loss. You should also be wary of apps that increase audio automatically to adjust for background noise. Also take breaks when listening with headphones to allow your ears to “relax”. Losing your hearing at any age will cause significant problems for you. Use caution when listening to audio with headphones to avoid future hearing loss problems.