Turn the music down to minimise hearing loss

Aug 05, 2012 in Hearing Protection

Turn the music down to minimise hearing loss

Listening to music is something many people enjoy doing from a young age, however it is easy to get lost in your favourite tracks and neglect the fact that blasting music into your ears on a regular basis can have a detrimental impact on your hearing over time.

When asked about the issue, Andy Glyde, senior campaigner at Action on Hearing Loss, said that, put simply, listening to music loudly can damage people's hearing irreversibly.

"It can lead to the onset of age-related hearing loss a lot sooner. Very often we say that if you listen to a lot of loud music you could end up with the [hearing] of someone who is 60 by the time you are 40, so it does bring it on a lot sooner," he continued.

"In the more immediate future, it could lead to permanent tinnitus which is that ringing in your ears caused by hearing damage. That is why it is really important to be looking after your ears."

So how do you know how loud is too loud?

Previous research has shown that as many as 80 per cent of people listen to music too loudly, with many not even realising they are doing so.

According to Action on Hearing Loss, listening to any sound at a high volume – more than 89 decibels – for more than five hours a week puts your hearing at risk.

The damage caused by listening to loud music, whether it is on an MP3 player or at a gig, builds up gradually and you may not notice the effects until years down the line.

Action on Hearing Loss is currently working with a number of MP3 player manufacturers to help provide information on how loud is too loud, but there are also steps individuals can take to protect themselves.

  • Don't try to compete with background noise: It may seem obvious but when you are listening to music in a busy environment such as on a commuter train it will be harder to hear and while it may be tempting to pump up the volume, trying to drown out background noise often means playing music at too high levels.

  • Buy in-the-ear headphones: In-the-ear headphones are designed to help cancel out background noise and provide a clearer sound meaning you don't need the volume turned up. Investing in a high quality pair could have a real benefit down the line.

  • Take a break: If you regularly listen to your portable music player then make sure you take a break every now and again to give your ears a much needed rest.