Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Martin, and Sting. What do these famous musicians have in common?
Just like Beethoven, all of them are struggling with various forms of hearing loss. But while the cause of Beethoven’s hearing loss is unknown, rockers like Sting have one thing to blame for their hurt ears: loud music.
Most of us know that exposure to loud noise can cause ear damage. But what about blasting music? Can loud music actually cause significant and permanent hearing impairments?
Continue reading to learn more about the science behind hearing loss and loud music and what you can do to protect your ears.
How Loud Music Can Hurt Ears
Our ears, the inner ears, to be precise, contain tiny hair cells that convert sound into electric signals. These signals are what the brain interprets as sound, music, or noise.
Each human cochlea has about 3,500 of these inner hair cells. It’s a meager number compared to other cell types with similar functions. Compare it to, let’s say, the photoreceptors in the retina that number in the millions, and you can see how that amount is incredibly low.
With so few to spare, you can’t afford to let any of them get compromised in any way. Unfortunately, loud, sustained sounds can easily damage these hair cells.
If the damage accumulates and eventually causes hearing loss, you can’t get it back. You may need to get a hearing test sooner than you think if you continue to listen to music on full blast.
How Many Decibels Is Considered Too Loud and Unsafe?
According to the CDC, any noise or sound above 70 decibels (dB) may start to damage your hearing. That’s just 10 dB above the average sound in a normal conversation. One of the dangers of headphones and other personal listening devices is that they can reach 105-110 decibels at max volume.
Playing music at 105-100 decibels can lead to hearing loss in as little as five minutes. As sounds get louder and your listening time gets longer, you’re more likely to sustain permanent damage to your hearing.
The 60/60 Rule for Headphones
To protect your hearing, the experts recommend the 60/60 rule. If you’re using headphones, keep the volume under 60 percent and only listen for 60 minutes at a time.
How can you tell if the music is too loud? Hold your earbuds or headphones at arm’s length. If you can still hear the music, then the decibels are unquestionably at an unsafe level.
Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones may be worth your while. Since they cancel out background noise, you can enjoy your tunes at a much lower volume.
How to Safely “Rock On” at Concerts
Start wearing earplugs.
That’s how Chris Martin of Coldplay dealt with tinnitus and halted the progression of hearing loss. Now, all band members use molded plugs or in-ear monitors when they play.
You can use drugstore-bought earplugs before going to a loud concert. They’re serviceable but may fit poorly. But if you’re a regular at concerts and music festivals, custom-fit earplugs can do a better job at protecting your hearing.
Turn That Music Down
Your mom yelling those words to you isn’t a vague threat or because she’s being a “boomer.” Loud music can hurt ears to the point of hearing loss. Lowering the volume can go a long way to preserve your hearing so you can continue on your musical journey.
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