More than a billion people risk losing their hearing due to the habit of listening to loud music for a long time.

“Listening to loud music is a constant aural stress that may lead to an early hearing loss, and nowadays, unfortunately, this is more frequent than in the past. There are many cases of precocious reduction of the hearing threshold in industrialized, noisy cities. In addition to this, listening to music in the wrong way, everywhere and setting the volume too high is dangerous for our ears” says, Doctor Luca Malvezzi, otolaryngologist and head-and-neck surgeon at Humanitas.

“People often turn up the volume to avoid hearing external noises, for example when traveling on public transport, and to make the experience even more intense. This way it is easy to exceed 80-100 decibels. A 100-120 decibel sound is like the noise of a working chainsaw or of a taking-off jet. Speech is normally produced and heard at 30-40 decibels, and this is the intensity one should use when listening to the music without risks”.


The Risks of a Noisy Environment

“If you live in a big city are constantly strained by the so-called noise pollution. This may cause the risk of early aural aging, added to the natural aural aging that can occur in twenty-year-olds on high-pitched frequencies (8000 Hz). The noise of a busy street is around 80-100 decibels, not much lower than the noise emitted by a jackhammer. When the auditory system deteriorates, this process affects the high-pitched frequencies first and then the mid frequencies. Presbycusis can affect one’s social life, making it difficult to recognize words, and sometimes it can make elderly people feel alone and sad”, Doctor Malvezzi explains.


How to Safely Listen to Music

You don’t have to give up on listening to music to safeguard your hearing, but – as the specialist suggests – you need to know some tips.

“The 60/60 rule is a good tip: you should not listen to music louder than the 60% of the maximum volume, and for not longer than 60 minutes at a time.

You should also choose headsets over earbuds, because the sound produced by headsets is softer and less traumatic on the tympanic membrane. You insert earbuds though directly into the ear and can damage the eardrum, because the sound is almost directly transferred onto the membrane”, Doctor Malvezzi says.