What’s your favorite thing about the sense of hearing? For many, it’s the ability to enjoy listening to music. However, unsafe listening practices can hurt your ears and even cause permanent damage to your hearing. Below the experts at Hearing Health Centers review how we hear, how loud music can damage our hearing and how to enjoy music safely.
How We Hear
The inner ear contains tiny hair cells called stereocilia. The stereocilia’s job is to convert sound waves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound. Each cell is responsible for a different frequency.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
When you’re exposed to dangerously loud sounds, it can damage or even destroy the stereocilia. Once damaged, these cells cannot regrow, and the result is permanent noise-induced hearing loss.
The loudness of sounds is measured in decibels (dB). Any sound over 85 dB can cause damage over time. Below is a list of common sounds and their decibel outputs:
- 20 dB – Whispering or rustling leaves.
- 40-60 dB – Normal speech.
- 85 dB – Passing highway traffic.
- 100 dB – Maximum volume of most headphones.
- 120-140 dB – Rock concert.
The louder the sound, the more quickly it can cause damage. For example, while a sound at 85 dB takes eight hours or more of exposure to cause damage, sounds at 100 dB can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes, and 120 dB sounds can cause immediate damage.
Safe Listening Through Headphones
It’s important to practice safe listening habits in order to preserve our precious sense of hearing.
In general, headphones are safer than earbuds because there’s more of a space buffer between the speaker and your ears. Noise-canceling headphones are best because you don’t have to turn up the volume as loud to hear your music over background noise.
When listening through headphones, the experts at Hearing Health Centers recommend following the 60:60 rule: listen at no more than 60% of the device’s maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time.
Enjoying Concerts Safely
We’re all excited to see our favorite local bands play at Wolly’s in Des Moines again, but safety is key.
If you can, stand somewhere that’s not too close to a speaker. You should also invest in musician’s plugs from Hearing Health Centers, which allow music through at a safe volume without distorting the sound.
If you’re playing a show, be sure to wear musician’s monitors in order to prevent hearing damage.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for custom hearing protection, call Hearing Health Centers today!