Monitoring healthy sound levels

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01/30/2020
Monitoring how regularly you are exposed to loud sound levels could have an impact on your long-term hearing health.

In our modern society, headphones are more popular than they’ve ever been. They are our outlet to unlimited playlists, podcasts, and hands-free telephone calls. While the convenience has made our lives easier, the effect on our hearing has not been as beneficial. For example, according to WHO, personal audio devices can reach sound levels as high as 136 dB, while the safest maximum dB level is 85 dB for 8 hours a day. The WHO also reports that half of teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 are exposed to unsafe sound levels through their personal devices[1]. 

Are you one of the many people around the world that turns up the volume on your headset or have you repeatedly been exposed to high sound levels? Schedule a free hearing test with your local hearing care expert to find out if your hearing health has been compromised, book a hearing test now.

With the increase in popularity of smartphone applications, modern technology has also paved the way for healthcare monitoring applications which allow users to monitor various health metrics via their smart devices. Many of these applications operate on sensors included in the smartphone itself, while some applications may require that the user purchases a separate sensor device. 

Health monitoring apps are available in the following areas: hearing health, cardiovascular activity, eye health, daily activity, respiratory health, sleep, skin health, and cognitive function[2]. 

Apple's new monitoring abilities:

470 million smartphones have been sold globally since 2011, and the overall time spent with our smartphones increases year by year. Smart device manufacturers are doing their part to protect consumers’ health by providing health monitoring. iOS 13 for iPhone has just released a new feature where users can monitor their exposure to loud audio levels. The feature is called “Headphone Audio Levels” and is located in the Health app on iPhones. This section will provide detailed data about your headphone audio levels. Apple will then categorize your volume levels as either “OK” or “Loud”. Long-term exposure to sounds above 80 decibels are sorted into the “Loud” category since repeated exposure to these levels could lead to long-term hearing loss, while sound exposure under 80 decibels is sorted into the “OK” category. The app will also allow you to measure your environmental sound levels. You can check out the “Environmental Sound Levels” feature of the app, and you can track sound data for your sound environment[3].

Another app offering sound monitoring capabilities is the Decibel X Pro Noise Meter app which essentially turns your smartphone into a sound level meter by measuring the sound levels in the environment around you[4].

Download the Decibel X Pro Noise Meter app here.

How monitoring could help in the long term:

Monitoring sound levels on a daily basis is a preventative measure to preserving your hearing health. Taking small steps in your everyday life such as monitoring your headphone and / or environment sound levels is a smart way to familiarize yourself with what sound levels may or may not be healthy for you. Over time, you will become more aware of which levels are healthy (and which are not) for your hearing health.

Conclusion

While modern technology has made it easier to expose our ears to higher sound levels through our smart devices, technological advancements have also given us access to new smartphone apps which monitor our sound exposure and guide us in making informed listening decisions so that we can protect our hearing health when possible. 

Do you think you might have symptoms of hearing loss?

Book a hearing test now

Sources:
[1] - https://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/activities/MLS_Brochure_English_lowres_for_web.pdf
[2] - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6539461/
[3] - https://9to5mac.com/2019/09/08/hearing-with-ios-13-and-watchos-6/
[4] - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gamebasic.decibel&hl=en_US

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