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Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Noise-related loss of hearing doesn’t just impact individuals who work in loud settings, like construction workers or heavy metal roadies. It doesn’t even need to be work-related, leisure-related noise exposure can be damaging, too. What type of exposure are we dealing with? Loud noise heard through headphones, whether it’s music, gaming, streaming video, or even an audiobook with the volume cranked up.

You might be surprised to discover that a mobile device can get that loud. But these devices can attain sustained volumes of over 105 dB, which is close to the average human threshold for pain. Your ears will actually start to hurt at this volume. So what’s the solution for protecting your hearing against volume related injury.

The volume level here is essential. Listen with the volume at no more than 60% for 60 minutes or less at a stretch (how long you listen for also makes a difference), this is known as the 60/60 rule.

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

Make certain, if you’re using hearing aids, you don’t attempt to drown out other noises by turning your streaming music up too loud. In addition, ask us about how best to listen to music. Hearing aids aren’t made to make music clearer like they do with voices so if you’re really into music, you may have noticed this. We might be able to make adjustments to lessen feedback and noise while maximizing some frequency ranges to improve the quality of sound when listening to music.

What Are The Best Headphones For You?

When purchasing headphones there are lots of options, especially if you use hearing aids. It may be a matter of personal preference, but there are some things you will want to consider there too.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

While the foam-covered speakers that was included with your old Walkman are generally no longer used, over-the-ear headphones have had a resurgence. Often unexpectedly high-priced, they provide a large variety of color possibilities and celebrity endorsements, and yes, superior sound quality. And unlike those little foam pads, these go over the whole ear, stopping outside sounds.

Main-stream wisdom is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But because the speakers are bigger they are commonly capable of much louder sound level. Noise cancellation can be a good thing as long as you’re not missing useful sounds like an oncoming car. Having said that, because they block out outside sound, you can typically decrease the volume of what you’re listening to so it’s not so loud that it will injure your ears.

Earbuds

The normal earbuds are widely recognized for poor sound quality, though lots of people still use them because hey, they came with the phone. Particularly, with newer Apple phones, it’s just easier to use the earbuds that were provided with the device because it probably won’t have a headphone jack.

The drawback, aside from the inferior sound quality, is that basic earbuds don’t cancel outside noises, so that it’s more likely that you will pump up the volume. It’s commonly thought that sticking earbuds so close to your eardrum is the primary issue but it’s actually the volume.

Earbuds That Block External Noise

More comfortable than ordinary earbuds, models that have a round rubber tip are the choice of many because they help block outside sound. The rubber conforms to the shape of your ear, producing a seal that stops other sounds from entering. But these earbuds can also block out noises you need to hear and loud volume is still the biggest concern. Obviously, these won’t work for you if you use hearing aids.

Several pairs might need to be tested before you find headphones that meet your needs. Depending on what you’re most often using them for talking on the phone, say, versus listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic requirements. The relevant thing is to seek out headphones that make it comfortable for you to enjoy at a safe volume.

How to Make Certain Your Hearing is Safeguarded

Is it Safe, How Can I be certain? There’s an app for that…If you use a smartphone, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get different apps, but studies has found that the reliability of these other apps is hit-and-miss (also, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have been shown to be less accurate). That motivated NIOSH to create their own app. 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. It’s a little bit of work, but putting in place these kinds of preventative measures can help protect your hearing.