Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

People who work in loud environments such as construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only people affected by noise related hearing loss. Recreation associated noise exposure can be just as harmful as work related noise exposure. The most prevalent type? Music, gaming, streaming video or anything that you would listen to through headphones or earbuds.

You might be alarmed to discover that a mobile device can get that loud. The average pain threshold for human hearing is around 150 db which is in the range of these devices. This is the volume at which noise begins to literally cause pain in your ears. So what can you do to safeguard against this type of noise-related hearing loss?

It’s significant here to consider the volume. Listen with the volume at or below 60% for 60 minutes or less at a stretch (how long you listen for also matters), this is known as the 60/60 rule.

Make a Setting on Your Hearing Aids For Listening to Music

If you use hearing aids, you’re likely streaming your device directly to your hearing aids, so be sure the volume is not too loud or that you’re not trying to drown out other noises with your music. Also, consult us about how to best listen to music. Hearing aids aren’t made to increase the quality of music like they do with voices so if really like music, you may have discovered this. We may be able to make adjustments to decrease noise and feedback while maximizing some frequency to enhance the quality of sound while listening to music.

How to Select The Best Headphones

When buying headphones there are numerous options, specifically if you have hearing aids. There are a few things to think about, although it’s generally a matter of personal choice.

Over-the-Ear Headphones

Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you probably won’t see the old foam covered ear pieces that once came with a walkman. They have a lot of options in style and color, are commonly endorsed by celebrities, and can be unexpectedly pricey. And these headphones cover the whole ear stopping unwanted sound, unlike those old foam ones.

Main-stream wisdom is that these are less dangerous than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But the fact is they’re often capable of much louder sound than the smaller kind, the speakers are a lot larger. Noise cancellation can be a good thing as long as you’re not missing needed sounds such as an oncoming car. But on the upside, you won’t need to compete with outside noise so you can enjoy your music at lower volumes.


The normal earbuds that are included with devices such as iPhones are much maligned for their poor sound quality, even though lots of people still use them because hey, they were included with the phone. Especially, with newer Apple devices, it’s simply easier to use the earbuds that were provided with the device because it most likely doesn’t have a headphone jack.

Earbuds also don’t block out sound so the downside is, you have a tendency to crank up the sound level. Again, though it’s often said that earbuds are problematic because you stick them into your ear so their speakers are extremely close to your eardrum, volume is really the biggest concern.

Earbuds That Block Outside Sound

More comfortable than standard earbuds, models with a round rubber tip are the choice of many people because they help stop outside sound. The rubber molds to the shape of your ear, producing a seal that blocks other sounds from entering. But these earbuds can also block out noises you need to hear and loud volume is still the number one concern. And if you have hearing aids, obviously these won’t work for you.

You may have to try out quite a few pairs before you find headphones that meet your requirements. Depending on what you regularly use them for talking on the phone, say, as opposed to listening to music, you’ll have unique acoustic expectations. Enjoying your tunes at a healthy volume and coming across headphones that assist you in doing that is essential.

How to Make Certain Your Hearing is Safeguarded

How can you be sure it’s safe? There’s an app for that…If you use a smartphone, you can get the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. There are different apps out there, but studies has found that the dependability of these other apps is spotty (also, for reasons yet unknown, Android-based apps have been shown less reliable). That prompted NIOSH to create an app of their own. The app enables you to measure external noises, but sounds coming from your device’s speakers can be measured too, so you will learn exactly how much volume your ears are subjected to. You have to do a little work, but taking these types of preventative measures can help protect your hearing.

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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