If you’re like Gene Simmons and want to rock ‘n roll all night, let’s hope you’re keeping the volume down to a reasonable level. Because 48 million Americans in Tucson and across the country suffer from hearing loss. Sadly, many of these individuals brought it on themselves. Audiologists in Tucson report that noise-induced hearing loss isn’t only one of the most common causes of hearing loss, but also the most preventable.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in your inner ear are damaged as a result of excessive noise exposure. Keep in mind that “excessive” doesn’t necessarily mean prolonged; a single loud gunshot or explosion can result in instantaneous permanent hearing loss. Generally speaking, any noise in excess of 85 decibels (dB) is considered hazardous to your hearing. Safe exposure times vary depending on how loud the sound; at 85 dB – roughly the equivalent of city traffic in Tucson – your ears can tolerate eight hours of exposure. But at 100 dB, you only have fifteen minutes of safe listening time.
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. By wearing hearing protection, Tucson residents can greatly reduce the risks of damaging their ears. And when listening to music, especially through headphones, keeping the volume down is extremely important.
Headphones Can Be Hazardous
One of the biggest contributors to hearing loss is headphones. While maximum output levels vary between manufacturers, they typically range from 75 dB all the way up to 136 dB. When listening to music in this range, damage can occur very quickly. Around 50 percent of teenagers and young adults in Tucson, aged 12-35, are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices; an estimated 5.3 percent of teenagers alone experience hearing loss due to loud music, a number that most experts believe will continue to grow.
We aren’t suggesting a ban on headphones or personal audio devices, of course. Instead, Tucson audiologists suggest adapting safe listening strategies in order to prevent noise-induced hearing loss from headphones. By listening smartly, you can have your Cake – and listen to them, too!
Using Headphones Safely
When listening to music through headphones, the obvious solution is to keep the volume down and limit your use. Adopt the 80-90 rule, which stipulates that if you listen to music at 80 percent of maximum volume, you should limit your use to 90 minutes. Another good rule of thumb: if others can hear the music emanating from your headphones, the volume is too high.
The type of headphones you wear matters, too. Noise-canceling headphones utilize technology that creates sound waves to block outside noise; this allows you to listen at a lower volume level since you do not have to turn the music up in order to hear it over external noises. Some models automatically adjust volume levels based on how long you’ve been wearing them and how loud you are playing your music.
Finally, recognize the signs of hearing loss. If you have a ringing in your ears after wearing your headphones, you are playing the music too loudly. It’s always a good idea to take a break from listening every 15 minutes or so regardless.
For more information on noise-induced hearing loss and strategies for safe headphone use, an audiologist in Tucson can help!