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Can blasting music hurt your ears?

Can blasting music hurt your ears?

There’s nothing like blasting your favourite song. But can this damage your hearing? The short answer is yes, it can cause temporary or even permanent damage. Read on to learn more about the dangers of loud music, and how to prevent music from causing hearing loss.

The Dangers of Loud Music

Ears are incredibly sensitive. Your inner ear has thousands of cells with millions of structures similar to little hairs which facilitates hearing. These cells and little hairs can be damaged by loud sounds, including music. The louder the sound, the more damage it will cause. 

Sounds are measured using the decibel scale (dB), with each 10 dB representing a tenfold increase in loudness. The human ear can safely listen to 70 dB without any sort of damage. 

This is a simple comparison of different sounds:

- Whisper quiet: Around 30 dB
- Normal conversation: Around 60 dB
- Busy restaurant: Around 80 dB
- Motorcycle engine: Around 95 dB
- Live concert: Can reach 110 dB or even higher

80 dB might seem perfectly fine, but the safe listening time is only 8 hours per week without causing damage… and every 3 dB increase cuts that time in half. And once you lose your hearing, it’s impossible to get it back.

So how loud is loud music? Well, it’s hard to say, as everyone determines what “loud music” is differently. Additionally, some songs are louder than others, and devices come with different volume levels. If music is louder than a casual conversation, then it’s too loud and will eventually cause some sort of damage. If your ears hurt after listening to music, then it’s far too loud and is definitely damaging your ears.

Side Effects of Loud Music

These are just a few of the more common side effects from blasting music:

Muffled Hearing: Just imagine someone has draped a thin blanket over your ears. That’s what muffled hearing feels like. Loud music can overstimulate the hair cells in your inner ear, which causes them to temporarily fatigue and send out distorted signals to your brain. This makes your hearing quieter, muddled and harder to understand. Muffled hearing can be short-term or permanent. 

Ringing in your Ears (Tinnitus): Picture a constant high-pitch buzzing or whistling that’s stuck in your head. That’s tinnitus, which is a common after-effect of loud noise exposure. This sound doesn’t exist for anyone else, as if your hair cells are sending SOS signals to your brain, stressed from the sonic assault. Tinnitus can be temporary or permanent. 

Ear Pain: When your ears are bombarded with loud music, the sudden increase in sound pressure can feel like something is pushing inwards. This pressure can cause discomfort, which ranges anywhere from a dull ache to a sharp pang. This is usually temporary, and acts as a reminder from your ears that they are not happy with the volume.

Trouble Focusing: Loud music doesn’t only affect your ears. It can affect your brain too. The auditory cortex, responsible for processing sound, can get overloaded which makes it harder to concentrate or follow conversations. Even performing simple tasks can become more difficult.

Protecting Your Hearing:

There are plenty of ways to protect your hearing. The most obvious method is to lower the volume, and duration. If you aren’t sure what volume is safe to listen to, try downloading apps that can monitor sound levels such as Decibel X on Apple or Sound Meter on Android. For loud speakers or concerts, try wearing noise-cancelling headphones or high-quality earplugs. 

Conclusion:

While blasting music may seem fun, it’s not worth losing your hearing over. Remember, hearing loss can be permanent and your ears are really sensitive. Watch your volume levels, and keep your ears safe.