Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

Noise-related hearing loss doesn’t only affect individuals who work in loud environments, like construction workers or heavy metal roadies. Recreation associated noise exposure can be just as harmful as work related noise exposure. What type of exposure are we discussing? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything else that you would listen to through earbuds or headphones.

You might not realize your smartphone or tablet can get that loud. But these devices can reach continuous volumes of over 105 dB, which is around the normal human threshold for pain. Your ears will actually start to feel pain at this volume. So what’s the solution for safeguarding your ears against volume related damage.

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

Create a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Music

Make certain, if you’re using hearing aids, you don’t try to drown out other noises by turning your streaming music up too high. Also, ask us about how best to listen to music. If you’re a musician or real music aficionado you might have noticed that most hearing aids are developed to sharpen the quality of voices…not necessarily music. While enjoying music, we can probably make a few modifications to help improve the sound quality and lessen the feedback.

What Are The Right Headphones For You?

When picking out headphones there are numerous choices, particularly if you have hearing aids. There are various things to think about, even though it’s largely a matter of personal choice.

Over-the-Ear Headphones

While the foam-covered earpieces that came with your old Walkman are generally a thing of the past, over-the-ear headphones have made a comeback. Often surprisingly costly, they feature a large variety of color options and celebrity endorsements, and yes, superior sound quality. And these headphones go over the whole ear limiting unwanted sound, unlike those old foam ones.

Conventional perception is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further away from your eardrum. But because the speakers are larger they are normally capable of much higher volume. Noise cancellation can be a helpful thing as long as you’re not losing important sounds like an oncoming car. But on the upside, you don’t need to compete with outside noise so you can enjoy your music at lower levels.


The normal earbuds are widely recognized for inferior sound quality, but because they come with your phone a lot of people still use them. Particularly, with newer Apple phones, it’s just easier to use the earbuds which were provided with the device because it probably doesn’t have a headphone jack.

Earbuds also don’t cancel out noise so the drawback is, you tend to crank up the volume. Once again,, though it’s frequently said that earbuds are problematic because you stick them in your ear so their speakers are extremely close to your eardrum, actually volume is really the biggest issue.

Earbuds That Block Outside Noise

More comfortable than regular earbuds, models with a round rubber tip are the choice of many because they help obstruct outside sound. The rubber conforms to the shape of your ear, creating a seal that blocks other sounds from getting in. But these earbuds can also block out noises you need to hear and volume is still the number one concern. Obviously, these won’t work for you if you wear hearing aids.

You might have to try out quite a few pairs before you find headphones that do the job. Depending on what you regularly use them for talking on the phone, say, versus listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic requirements. The important thing is to seek out headphones that make it comfortable for you to listen at a safe and secure volume.

Don’t Cut Corners When it Comes to Your Hearing

How can you be sure it’s safe? If you use a smartphone, you can get an app for that, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get different apps, but research has found that the dependability of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for unknown reasons, Android-based apps have proven to be less accurate). That motivated NIOSH to create an app of their own. The app allows you to measure outside noises, but sounds coming from your device’s speakers can also be measured, so you will find out precisely how much volume your ears are getting. You have to do a little work, but taking these types of protective steps can help protect your ears.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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