Take a look at the people around you the next time you’re in the gym working out or at the library doing homework or even on campus walking to class. Chances are you or someone around you is wearing headphones and listening to music. Thanks to the introduction of smartphones, listening to music has become more convenient than ever with easy portability and unlimited access to all your favorite songs via music streaming apps. As a result, people tend to spend a lot more time wearing their headphones. But just because you have the ability to listen to your favorite songs at all hours of the day doesn’t mean that you should. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported that 1.1 billion people aged 12-35 listen to personal electronic devices at volumes deemed “unsafe,” putting themselves in danger of permanent hearing loss. Sounds are all around us, but when exposed to sounds that are too loud for long periods, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur. NIHL is almost 100 percent preventable and by taking a number of precautionary steps you can listen to your favorite songs while still preserving and protecting your hearing.
In-ear vs. over-the-ear headphones
In-ear headphones (e.g., earbuds) deliver sound directly into the ear canal and are placed close to the eardrum, which increases the volume by up to nine decibels. In addition to this, in-ear headphones don’t block out background noise very well, causing people to turn up the volume. A better alternative to in-ear headphones are over-the-ear headphones, which allows the music to be played farther from the ear drum. Some over-the-ear headphones even come with noise cancellation features so there’s no need to turn up the volume in noisy environments.
Turn it down
At their maximum volume setting, music devices can generate as much sound as a live rock concert! The best way to protect your ears is to keep the volume under 60-80 percent of the maximum degree of loudness. Some MP3 players also have a volume control feature that allows you to limit the amount you can raise the sound so that you can safely protect your ears.
Take a break
Today’s music devices have long-lasting batteries that enable you to stream music for hours on end. Not only does the volume at which you listen to your music contribute to hearing loss, but so does the amount of time you have your earphones in. Make sure to keep track of the amount of time you listen to your music and give your ears a break. When it comes down to it, moderation is vital. Taking safety measures to protect your hearing now will help you in the long run when it comes to your hearing health and allow you to enjoy all your favorite tunes for many years to come!