One of the most common causes of preventable hearing loss is exposure to noise. Extremely loud sounds can damage our hearing nearly instantaneously, but even loud sounds that occur in our daily lives can be damaging with prolonged exposure.

How can you tell if you’re exposing yourself to something that is damaging your hearing? One convenient tool is decibel monitoring.

Though decibel monitors have existed for decades, the smartphone generation has recently put them in our pockets with health monitoring apps. When used correctly, these can dramatically change the way we interact with dangerous levels of sound.

Leading the pack is Apple’s Health app integration, which automatically nets data for you on both environmental sound and headphone audio levels, providing interactive graphs and sound level classifications to dive into. These provide guidance on how you can stay in safe decibel ranges.

For the earbud generation, this is particularly helpful. The top volume on an iPhone is 102 dB. If someone listens to music at that volume for just 10 minutes, it can result in hearing loss. For the sake of comparison, that’s equivalent to the sound of a jet taking off, or a jackhammer.

Previously, people tended to gauge appropriate headphone volume by whether or not someone within arm’s reach could hear their music. Now, with an app full of rich data for people to self-check use and audio levels, our phones can help protect our hearing even when no one else is around.

In case this sounds like a young person’s problem, you should know that hearing loss from noise exposure doesn’t discriminate. Though it’s true that over a billion young people are at risk of hearing loss, chiefly from listening to music on headphones or earbuds, the dangers are more widespread. With the advent of Apple’s top-line Air Pods, which are popular with everyone from Generation Z high-schoolers to Boomer executives, this PSA applies to everyone.

While tools like decibel monitoring are valuable aids in maintaining healthy hearing, the old rules still apply. If you suspect you are hurting your hearing, or suspect something is too loud, you’re probably right. Do yourself a favor and turn down the volume.

If you are experiencing hearing damage or have questions about how to best protect your hearing, contact our experts at The Family Hearing Center at TLC at (301) 738-1415.

1. World Health Organization. (2019). Turn it down! Millennials’ music habit puts their hearing at risk: U.N.. Retrieved from