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What’s a Safe Listening Volume?
Although it has been very clear for a very long time, and smart audiologists have been warning people about the dangers for as long as we can remember, an awful lot of people still do not take the warnings about the dangers of listening to sounds at too loud a volume seriously. This is very concerning because listening to music, for example, at a very high volume, can be disastrous for your hearing health.
Recent research has discovered that millions of people are ignoring the warning signs that signal poor hearing health. They not only do not avoid loud noises but also actively seek them out, even when they may know the dangers, and in some cases, even when those loud noises are starting to make them feel uncomfortable or experience symptoms like ringing in the ears.
It’s understandable why people would prefer to listen to their music turned up to the max or attend loud fireworks displays and concerts without giving their hearing health a second thought, but it is really not the safest thing to do in terms of your hearing health.
Of course, one of the biggest problems is that many people just do not know how loud is too loud.
Dangerously loud noises are everywhere
Most of us will probably know that loud rock concerts and using noisy mechanical equipment are bad for our hearing health but we often do not consider the other everyday noises that could be too loud for our ears to bear. Even things like the buzz of traffic in a busy city or the lawnmower you use to keep your garden looking great can cause a threat to your hearing, especially if you are exposed to them for more than a couple of hours.
Okay, so when is a sound too loud?
Below you will find an overview of various common sounds and when they are likely to be too loud and leave you at risk of hearing loss:
- 30dBs: This level is where you would expect a normal conversation to sit. Any amount of exposure to sounds at this level should be fine.
- 80-85dBs: Traffic noises and light machinery like lawnmowers are likely to sit at this level. You should be safe to listen to sounds at this level for under two hours, after that length of time, your risk of hearing loss is likely to increase.
- 90-95dBs: Motorcycles revving are a good example of noise at this level. Any more than 45-50 minutes of exposure could pose a risk to your hearing health.
- 100dBs: Large sporting events, nearby trains and heavy machinery often reaches this level and just 15 minutes of prolonged exposure could result in hearing loss.
- 110dBs: Earphones turned up to the max are likely to reach 110dBs. This is an extremely dangerous level of exposure and even just 5 minutes could put you on the path to hearing loss.
- 120dBs and over: Big rock concerts can reach in excess of this level and any amount of exposure can cause pain and instant damage to your hearing health.
85 Decibels is ideal
As you can see from the above, it is probably not a good idea to listen to sounds of above 85 decibels without wearing some kind of hearing protection. Of course, it can be hard to know exactly how loud a sound is due to various environmental factors and because we simply aren’t used to processing sound in such an analytical way.
The good news is, there are apps you can download to gauge the level of sound around you using your smartphone, and most workplaces will have signs to tell you how loud the machinery gets.
Still, if you are in any doubt whatsoever as to whether the level of sound will go beyond safe levels, it is a good idea to wear ear defenders or earplugs. Your audiologist will be able to offer you custom solutions that tend to be more effective than off-the-peg ear safety equipment, but any ear defenders will be better than having no protection at all.
When listening to music, you should never turn your headphone up higher than halfway if you want to ensure that you are listening at a safe level either. This may not sound ideal to you at first, but you will adjust, and eventually, it will be plenty loud enough for you, and more importantly, safe.
If you would like to know more about safe listening volumes or if you are concerned about hearing loss, speak to an expert audiologist at Your Hearing Connection by calling 626-538-9920 today.