Noise-related loss of hearing doesn’t just impact individuals who work in loud surroundings, like construction workers or heavy metal roadies. It doesn’t even need to be work-related, recreation-related noise exposure can be damaging, also. The most prevalent type? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything that you would listen to through headphones or earbuds.
You may not think your smartphone or tablet can go that loud. But these devices can achieve continuous volumes of over 105 dB, which is close to the ordinary human pain threshold. This is the volume at which noise starts to literally cause pain in your ears. So what can you do to safeguard against this sort of noise-related hearing loss?
It’s relevant here to think about the volume. A quick shorthand that’s widely recommended is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at or below 60% for 60 minutes or less at a stretch (because the length of sound exposure matters, too).
Your Hearing Aids Can be Set up For Music
If you have hearing aids, you’re more than likely streaming your mobile device directly to your hearing aids, so be certain the volume is not too loud or that you’re not attempting to drown out other noises with your music. And there are more appropriate ways to listen to music so consult us about that as well. Hearing aids aren’t made to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if you’re really into music, you might have noticed this. We may be able to change the configuration to reduce feedback and noise while maximizing some frequency to enhance the quality of sound while listening to music.
What Are The Right Headphones For You?
If you don’t own hearing aids, there are a lot of choices for getting headphones. It might be a matter of personal choice, but there are some things you should consider there too.
Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you most likely won’t find the old foam covered speakers that once came with a walkman. They have lots of choices in color and style, are commonly endorsed by celebrities, and can be unexpectedly pricey. And these headphones cover the whole ear stopping out noise, unlike those old foam ones.
Main-stream perception is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But the reality is they’re usually capable of much louder volume than the smaller kind, the speakers are much bigger. Also, noise-canceling may help you ignore the crying baby on your flight, but in other situations, it can silence sounds you need to hear (like a car honking). Having said that, because they block out outside noise, you can typically decrease the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not so loud that it will hurt your ears.
The normal earbuds are widely recognized for poor sound quality, but because they come along with your phone lots of people still use them. Plus, with newer versions that lack a headphone jack, sticking with Apple’s earbuds can simply be easier.
The downside, in addition to the poor sound quality, is that basic earbuds don’t block outside sounds, so that it’s more likely that you will crank up the sound level. It’s commonly thought that placing earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main concern but it’s really the volume.
Earbuds That Block External Sound
Many people opt for earbuds with a rounded, rubbery tip both because they’re more comfy than normal earbuds and better at blocking outside sounds. A seal that blocks outside sound from getting in is formed by the rubber tip which conforms to the shape of the ear. Not to sound like a broken record, but these have the same disadvantages as the other two (it’s all about the volume), as well as carrying the same caution as over-the-ear headphones (they can block out warning sounds). Needless to say, these won’t work for you if you use hearing aids.
A number of pairs may need to be evaluated before you find headphones that are what you are looking for. Your expectations, acoustically, will be different depending on what kind of usage you normally give them. Enjoying your tunes at a healthy volume and finding headphones that help you do that is essential.
Don’t Cut Corners When Dealing With Your Hearing
Is it Safe, How Can I be Sure? 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 different apps, but research has discovered that the reliability of these other apps is hit-and-miss (additionally, for whatever reason, Android-based apps have been shown less accurate). That prompted NIOSH to develop an app of their own. The app lets you measure external noises, but it’s also possible to measure the sound coming from your device’s speakers, this means, the actual volume of what’s going to your ears. You have to do a little work, but putting in place these kinds of preventative measures can help protect your hearing.