In an era of personal listening devices and video gaming systems, an increasing number of people experience noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL. Many researchers have attributed this trend to the prevalence and prolonged use of personal listening devices.
Personal listening devices can deliver sound directly to the ear at potentially dangerous levels. Noise levels can exceed 85 decibels, which is the maximum safe level for prolonged listening. With extended battery life and thousands of songs on hand, you can use these devices for longer periods of time. Prolonged exposure at high volume increases the risk of NIHL.
It’s important to practice safe-listening tips whenever listening to music, podcasts, lectures, or other content through a personal listening device. These include:
- Never listen at 100 percent volume level
- Follow the “60:60 rule.” Listen at 60 percent of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day.
- If the device has a “smart volume” feature, use it. This feature helps regulate the volume.
- Keep the volume low, even in noisy situations. Don’t turn up the volume simply to drown out background noise in loud or crowded environments, such as on the subway or in the mall.
- Take periodic breaks of 15–20 minutes to allow your ears to recover.
- Choose noise-cancelling headphones or ear buds. They block out background noise and allow for lower volume.
- Wear ear buds or headphones according to manufacturer’s instructions.