The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around a billion young people worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. Around 43 million people that are aged between 12 and 35 suffer from disabling hearing loss. It is estimated that around 50% of this younger demographic are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from personal audio devices and 40% are exposed to damaging sounds at bars and clubs.

When we listen to loud sounds for a prolonged period of time it causes fatigue of the ear’s sensory cells. Initially, this is temporary and results in short term hearing loss or tinnitus. An example of this is when you go to a loud music concert you may leave with the feeling that your hearing is muffled or you have ringing in your ears. Once the concert finishes and you are away from the loud sounds, your sensory cells start to recover and your hearing will begin to return to normal. However, if you are constantly exposed to loud sounds this can damage the sensory cells beyond recovery and permanent damage is caused resulting in irreversible hearing loss.

7 Tips For Safer Listening 

Turn Down The Music

This one is probably the most obvious of them all but is often overlooked. Do not listen to your music from personal devices at unsafe, high volumes. A lot of people are guilty of using music to drown out background noises such as when they are at the gym but this prolonged exposure is very damaging. How do you know when your music is too loud? This is very simple, any time the music feels uncomfortable to listen to, you can’t hear external sounds with your music on or the person next to you can hear your music means you need to turn it down.

Use The 60:60 Rule

The 60:60 rule is a great guide to keeping your music and exposure at safe levels. To enjoy your audio responsibly make sure that you only listen to your music at a maximum of 60% of the volume for a maximum of 60 minutes per day.

Use Ear Plugs

If you know you are going to a place where you will be exposed to loud sounds for extended periods of time you can use hearing protection such as ear plugs. Some people feel that ear plugs can take away from the experience at music venues when in fact using the right ear plugs can keep the noise down to safe levels whilst still being able to clearly hear the concert and enjoy the atmosphere around you. If possible take breaks as often as possible to give your ears some time to recover.

Wear Headphones

We have talked about people using music to drown out background noise which is where headphones come in. Nowadays you can buy noise-cancelling headphones that remove all background noise meaning you can keep the volume level down. If you can’t afford a pair of noise-cancelling ones the next best thing you can do is to buy over the ear headphones as these offer some noise reducing qualities whereas in-the-ear styles offer very little in terms of keeping sounds out.

Turn Down The TV

A lot of people spend a few hours daily in front of the TV so making a small change to the volume can make a big difference in protecting your hearing. If you find that you have to raise your voice to talk to somebody in the same room it’s a good sign to turn the volume down.

Loud Noise At Work

The HSE estimates that 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work. Make sure to speak to HR or your manager about hearing protection if you are subject to loud noises for prolonged periods of time. It is a lawful requirement for your workplace to provide you with hearing protection if sounds are 85dB(A) or above.

Take A ‘Hearing Detox’

Last but not least, make sure to give your ears a break after listening to any loud sounds. RNID recommend that you give your ears at least 16 hours to recover after spending around 2 hours in 100dB sound. To put this in context the average nightclub has noise levels around 100dB.