We take a look at keeping your ears protected to prevent the risks of hearing loss, particularly when listening to music.
Loud music can damage your ears or cause permanent hearing loss and can also include ringing or buzzing in your ears. Please make sure you know the risk, so you can look after your ears before it’s too late.
How loud music damages hearing
Inside the cochlea (our hearing organ that sits deep inside our ears), there are thousands of sound-sensing cells called hair cells. These tiny cells are essential for hearing: they pick up sound waves and turn them into electrical signals that are sent to the brain and interpreted as sound. (RNID, 2023, sec. 2, par. 1)
According to experts, hair cells can start to become damaged by noise at 85dB and above. That can be an issue considering music at clubs and concerts is often around 110dB, and some headphones play music that’s just as loud when the volume is turned right up. (RNID, 2023, sec. 2, par. 2)
When you’re exposed to an increasing amount of loud noise, the hair cells become overstimulated. Once this happens, they become fatigued and stop responding to sound. This can result in temporary hearing loss.
Top Tips for listening to music safely
Take a look at our top tips to protect your ears so you can continue to listen to music safely:
- Use a volume limiter (filter) on your device if the device has one. This ensures you won’t be able to turn the volume up too high
- Don’t go over the ‘safe’ volume level that appears on your device’s screen when adjusting the volume control
- Purchase noise cancelling headphones – this will reduce the temptation to turn your volume up over any background noise
- When at a concert/gigs – try and stay away from the speakers as the closer you get, the more risks you face to damaging your hearing
- Try and take regular breaks from loud areas whilst at a concert/gig
- If you can, purchase earplugs and wear them whilst out at concerts, clubs and gigs – this will make it a little quieter and a lot safer for your ears
Example of hearing loss for a musician
Singer-songwriter and record producer PinkPantheress recently shared her story with hearing loss. The star has lost 80% of her hearing in her right ear due to the exposure of loud music over the years of her career. (BBC News, March 2023)