Mind & Body

Keep Your Music Volume Down To A Microwave's Beep

Our editors delve into Curiosity's top stories every day on a podcast that's shorter than your commute. Click here to listen and learn — in just a few minutes!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half of people ages 12–35 in middle- and high-income countries are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from their phones, MP3 players, and other personal audio devices. As a result, hearing damage in teens and young adults is on the rise. Noise-induced hearing damage is irreversible, and can lead to real quality of life issues including trouble understanding your loved ones and a constant, high-pitched ringing known as tinnitus.

Practice Safe Sounds

So how do you listen to your favorite tunes without needing a hearing aid in a few decades? An "unsafe listening level" depends on how long you're listening. The WHO defines 85 decibels as the highest safe exposure level when you're listening for eight hours or less. That's plenty loud; roughly the volume of a microwave beepan alarm clock, or a blender.

But if you were to crank up an Apple iPod to its maximum volume—102 decibels—you could listen for a maximum of five minutes before you risk hearing loss. This example may sound extreme, but add in the background noise of a crowded train car or the hum of an airplane and you may need to crank the volume that high to even make out the words in a song. That's why hearing experts also recommend noise-isolating or, better yet, noise-canceling headphones in loud environments, since they make it easier to listen at a lower volume.

Explore the issues of hearing loss with the videos below.

Hearing Loss Is More Common Than You Think

More people are experiencing hearing damage, but the issue has mostly gone under the radar.

Share the knowledge!
Written by Curiosity Staff September 28, 2016

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.