Ways to listen to music without damaging your ears

By Krutika Lal Apr 27, 2021

The pleasure and adrenaline rush of jamming to your favourite rock band music is pretty insane! Agreed. But beyond a certain level , loud music is harmful to your ears and can lead to hearing loss over time. It doesn't matter whether you're at a gig or in a club when you're listening to loud music, any exposure to loud music may damage your hearing.

How does sound reach your brain?

To know about the dangers of hearing loss, you must first understand how the ears work. Sound waves are picked up by the ears and identified as music, voice, or other recognisable sounds.
The outer ear channels sound waves into the ear canal and through the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates as a result of these waves, and the vibrations travel to the middle ear, where tiny bones are located. The sensations are then intensified by the bones and transmitted to the inner ear.
Thousands of hair cells in the inner ear sense vibrations. The vibrations are converted to signals by these hairs, which are then transmitted to the brain through the auditory nerve. When the signal enters the brain, the sound stimuli are translated into something that you are able to comprehend.

How does the damage occur?

Excessive loud noise can hurt the inner ear's nerves, membranes, hair cells, and other fragile parts. If these parts of the ear don't function properly, the signals don't get through to the brain, and the signals aren't sent. It may result in either a temporary or permanent hearing loss. If the sensitive parts of the ears are damaged to the point that they can't be repaired, permanent hearing loss occurs. The inner ear is a highly delicate region that is very susceptible to damage by loud noises. The delicate ear hairs are overworked and die when your ears hear these noisy noises. And by the time a hearing test diagnoses the problem, most of the hair cells can be affected.

Factors that determine the risk

There are a few factors that could worsen the effects of noise exposure:

How close are you to the loud noise's source?
The amount of time you've been subjected to loud noises
The volume of the sound
Time spent wearing headphones and how often it is done

Here are important measures to follow in order to protect your hearing without compromising your musical experience:

Keep the volume low

Yes, it is that easy. Make sure you've kept the volume down on your headphones or earbuds. However, don't stop there. Make an attempt to keep volumes of other sources low as well, so that you don't end up increasing the volume of your headphones/earphones to neutralise that sound. Remember that 85 decibels is the limit. Any sound louder than that can cause permanent hearing loss. Instead, a basic step is to just keep your music player's volume at no more than 60% of full volume. Any louder than that, and you'll be over the 85-decibel mark.

Using Noise-Cancelling headphones

Most people while using headphones block out other noises, by turning the volume up as the outside world gets louder. Instead wear noise-canceling headphones to counter the increasing external volume. Noise canceling headphones, operate primarily by limiting outside noises with a design that seals your ear from external noise. Active noise-canceling headphones operate by continuously recording the sounds around you and producing waves that cancel out the external noise. Lower-quality earbuds, on the other hand, have the drawback of being too close to your eardrum and being unable to block out ambient noise. The sound quality weakens as well, and with the irritating external noise, the only way to compensate is to turn up the volume. For example, PLAYGO BH47 offers superb noise cancellation at the noisiest of surroundings to give you a seamless listening experience. 

Take Breaks

When you feel that neither of the above options are doable, merely even taking breaks from your headphones will help avoid hearing loss caused by headphones. The more you listen to loud music, the more likely your ears will be damaged. Every 30 minutes, or every 60 minutes, take a 5-10 minute break. Because hearing loss isn't only a result of loudness, it's also a result of time. The more your ears are exposed to loud noises, the more serious is the damage.
Another consideration is to keep the listening time at this volume to under 60 minutes a day. Also, remember that lower volumes can withstand longer periods of listening.

In brief, the type of device you choose to wear makes a difference in the safety of your hearing.
Headphones or earphones that seal the ear are more effective at blocking out ambient noise. Because of the improved sound quality, you can listen at a lower volume.
The end result is that investing in a pair of high-quality headphones/earphones, preferably with noise-cancelling technology, is well worth the money. That way, you can follow the 60/60 rule without sacrificing the quality of your music or, more importantly, your hearing in the future.

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