Loud tunes may help get you through a grueling workout, but those inspirational sounds may be hurting your health more than helping it, especially when listening to loud music over longer durations. Studies have shown that listening to any sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can impact the health of your hearing, even more impactful is the amount of time you spend listening to the loud tunes. The risk of hearing loss is proportional to the duration of the exposure. Like radiation exposure, noise exposure has a dose relationship. The greater the sound level and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk!
Music exposures add to the noise burden of daily life and can cause hearing loss. Although any single aerobic class or music exposure while on a run is unlikely to cause a hearing loss, exposure on a regular basis can greatly impact your hearing-health if the sound levels are at and above 85 dB. Not only can these loud noises cause permanent hearing loss, they can also lead to symptoms such as Tinnitus. Tinnitus is like a ”sunburn” of the hair cells of your inner ear, indicating that they have been irritated and overworked. If you notice the onset of tinnitus, or increased tinnitus immediately after a noise exposure, this suggests the sound exposure was too much for your ears and that repeated exposures might well lead to permanent hearing loss.
So what can you do if you suspect a hearing problem or too much noise exposure in your life? Start off by having a complete hearing evaluation by an audiologist to get a baseline against which to compare future hearing tests. Your audiologist can answer your questions on hearing conservation and help you create a plan for increasing your hearing health. Making sure you limit loud noise exposure, and plan quiet breaks throughout the day will also help keep your ears in a healthy state. Learn more about the dangers of loud noises in our preventing hearing loss section.