We don’t tell you anything new when we say that listening to music through headphones with the volume completely turned up probably isn’t the best idea. A pounding bass delivered straight to the sensitive inner ear can’t be good. Can it?

Happy hardcore and death metal

But what do you tell your teenage kids who only appreciate their happy hardcore or death metal when the volume is completely turned up? You could ask them how much they enjoy hearing music and and suggest they’ll find it harder to listen to it in the future if they don’t turn it down. How soon that is, isn’t completely clear. Most hearing loss manifests itself after 5 to 10 years. According to the MRC one in six adults has enough hearing loss to cause problems in social situations.

For a long time evidence about this statement has been inconclusive. In 2010 there wasn’t enough evidence to state that hearing can be damaged solely by listening to music. So the MRC Institute of Hearing Research decided to do an online study to find a link between hearing loss and personal music players. They asked participants to share how much loud music they’ve listened to and then do a short listening experiment.

volume turned up

An apple a day

It’s hard to keep track off how loudly people listen to music or how continuously they do so. What we do know is that personal music players can reach between 95 and 105 decibels (dB). Just over 105dB is equivalent to holding a chainsaw at arms length. The Oregon Health and Science University says that based on this evidence you’d expect to damage your hearing within 15 minutes if you used ordinary headphones with your iPhone at maximum volume.

You can enjoy music and do it in a responsible manner. Invest in good quality headphones as cheap ones don’t transmit the bass very well. When you increase the volume it increases the high-frequency sounds as well and it is this noise that is most dangerous to hearing. Take frequent breaks from your personal music player and a more surprising piece of advice: take your vitamine C. This research shows that antioxidant vitamins and magnesiums can prevent hearing damage. So to answer aforementioned question: listening to you music with your headphones on full volume will get you deaf. No matter how many apples you eat.