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      Listen to music safely

      Have you ever come out of a gig and realised your ears are ringing? Or found everything sounds a bit dull after you've been listening to music on your smartphone or other device? You could be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss or permanent tinnitus.

      What volume is safe when I use my mobile phone or other device?

      There's no simple answer to this question, as it depends on the make and model of your device, the type of headphones you are using and on your susceptibility to hearing damage. The music is too loud when:

      • it feels uncomfortable when you are listening to it
      • you can't hear external sounds when you're wearing your headphones.

      But that's not the complete picture, because noise damage is caused by two factors – the volume you listen at and how long you listen for. When you vary the volume, the length of time you can ‘safely’ listen for changes too. Simply put, the higher the volume, the shorter time you should listen for.

      Other tips:

      • Take regular breaks of at least five minutes every hour to give your ears a rest
      • If your device has a volume limiter, use it – this means you will not be able to turn the music up without realising
      • If you can turn it down a notch, it will make a big difference to how long you can listen to the music.

      What about live music and events?

      Loud music at clubs, gigs and festivals, and through your smartphone or other device can damage your hearing. This could mean permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or premature hearing loss.

      The risk of damage is determined by how loud the music is, how long you are exposed to it, and your susceptibility to noise.

      The best way to protect your hearing is to use earplugs that are designed for listening to music. These do not muffle the sound but just reduce the volume. There are lots of different earplugs available, ranging from the inexpensive to the custom-made. But for the price of a CD, you can pick up some good quality earplugs that will adequately protect your hearing.

      Other tips:

      • Don’t get too close to the speakers – the closer you are, the more noise reaching your ears.
      • Take breaks – if there is a chill out area at the club, use it.

      Won't my ears get use to loud music?

      In short, no. Loud music affects everyone's hearing. Some people may be more susceptible to damage than others but it's only possible to know your susceptibility once you have damaged your hearing. So it's important to take steps to prevent any damage from occurring.

      What might happen if I damage my hearing?

      If you have been exposed to loud music, you may experience ringing in your ears. This is usually temporary and tends to go after 24 hours at most.

      Continued exposure to loud music can lead to the ringing, or tinnitus, to become permanent. This has been known to affect people's lives, their ability to sleep and concentrate.

      You may also experience premature hearing loss. While you may not notice this straight away, it could bring on hearing loss as a result of age much quicker.

      More information

      If you are worried that you may have damaged your hearing as a result of listening to loud music, you can speak to our information line. We also sell a range of hearing protection products in our online shop.

      Learn more about tinnitus and the drugs, therapies and self-help techniques that may help manage the symptoms.