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Woman enjoying music with headphones but protecting her hearing.

People who work in loud settings like construction sites or at heavy metal concerts are not the only ones impacted by noise related loss of hearing. It doesn’t even have to be work-related, recreation-related noise exposure can be dangerous, too. The most common type? Loud noise heard through headphones, whether it be music, gaming, streaming video, or even an audiobook with the volume turned up.

You may be surprised to find out that a mobile device can get that loud. The average pain threshold for human hearing is roughly 150 db which is well within the range of these devices. Your ears will literally start to feel pain at this volume. So what can you do to safeguard against this type of noise-related loss of hearing?

It’s significant here to consider the volume. An easy shorthand that’s widely recommended is the 60/60 rule: Listen with the volume at or below 60% for no more than 60 minutes in a single session (because the length of sound exposure matters, too).

Your Hearing Aids Can be Set up For Listening to Music

Be sure, if you’re utilizing hearing aids, you don’t attempt to drown out other noises by turning your streaming music up too loud. In addition, ask us about how to best listen to music. Hearing aids aren’t designed to make music clearer like they do with voices so if really like music, you might have noticed this. While listening to music, we can most likely make various modifications to help enhance the sound quality and minimize the feedback.

What Are The Best Headphones For You?

When shopping for headphones there are many choices, especially if you wear hearing aids. There are various things to think about, although it’s largely a matter of personal preference.

Headphones That go Over The Ears

Over the ear headphones are becoming popular again but you probably won’t see the old foam covered speakers that once came with a walkman. They have lots of choices in style and color, are frequently endorsed by celebrities, and can be unexpectedly pricey. And these headphones go over the whole ear stopping out noise, unlike those old foam ones.

Main-stream perception is that these are safer than in-ear headphones because the source of the sound is further from your eardrum. But because the speakers are larger they are commonly capable of much higher volume. In addition, noise-canceling might help you ignore the crying baby on your flight, but in other scenarios, it can silence sounds you need to hear (like a honking car). But on the upside, you won’t have to contend with outside noise so you can enjoy your music at lower volumes.


The standard earbuds are well known for inferior quality of sound, although many people still use them because hey, they were included with the phone. Plus, with newer devices that don’t have a headphone jack, staying with Apple’s earbuds can just be easier.

The drawback, aside from the poor sound quality, is that basic earbuds don’t cancel outside sounds, so that it’s more likely that you will pump up the volume. It’s commonly thought that sticking earbuds so close to your eardrum is the main issue but it’s really the volume.

Earbuds That Block Outside Noise

More comfortable than ordinary earbuds, models with a round rubber tip are the choice of many people because they help block outside noise. The rubber molds to the shape of your ear, creating a seal that blocks other noises from getting in. Not to sound like a broken record, but these have the same downsides as the other two (it’s all about the volume), as well as carrying the same caution as over-the-ear headphones (they can block out warning sounds). And if you wear hearing aids, clearly these won’t work for you.

Several pairs may have to be tested before you find headphones that meet your needs. Depending on what you regularly use them for talking on the phone, say, as opposed to listening to music, you’ll have different acoustic expectations. The important thing is to find headphones that make it comfortable for you to enjoy 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 have a smartphone, you can get an app for that, you can download the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s free Sound Level Meter app. You can get other apps, but research has discovered that the dependability of these other apps is spotty (in addition, for whatever reason, Android-based apps have been shown to be less accurate). That prompted NIOSH to develop an app of their own. You can measure outside sounds with the app, but sounds coming out of your device’s speakers can be measured too, so you will know exactly how much volume your ears are getting. You have to do a little work, but putting in place these types of protective measures can help protect your ears.

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