While today’s state-of-the-art technology has amazing benefits, it’s still worth taking the time to consider whether it can be dangerous. Unfortunately, experts believe technology can be harmful to our hearing – specifically, continuous use of headphones while listening to music, stream movies and play video games.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Exposure to anything louder than 85 dB for more than eight hours in a day can damage the delicate cells in your inner ear responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. Damage to the auditory system caused by exposure to loud sounds is called noise-induced hearing loss.
To help contextualize how loud 85 dB is, here is a list of average decibel ratings for everyday sounds from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):
- Normal conversation: 60-70 dB
- Movie theater: 74-104 dB
- Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80-110 dB
- Music through headphones at max volume: 94-110 dB
- Sirens: 110-129 dB
- Fireworks: 140-160 dB
As you can see, listening to media through headphones can far exceed the threshold for safe listening. In fact, music at 100 dB can cause permanent damage in as little as 15 minutes.
Earbuds Pose the Biggest Risk
While it’s possible to damage your hearing with any type of personal listening device, earbuds are especially hazardous. Earbuds deliver sounds directly into the eardrum, which means there is no space buffer between the sound source and your delicate auditory system.
Despite this, earbuds are still incredibly popular. Their price tag and small size are ideal for people who go to the gym, commute or run at Gosnold’s Hope Park. But because they tend to be low-quality, wearers need to crank up the volume to hear the music over all the background noise.
Protect Your Hearing
The best way to protect your hearing while listening to music or video through headphones is to follow the 60/60 rule, meaning you listen at no more than 60% of the device’s max volume for no more than 60 minutes at a time. We also recommend investing in high-quality noise-canceling headphones to replace your earbuds. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Hampton Roads ENT today.