Can listening music to max volume(rock and pop music)damage my hearing?

I’m on the second week and my audiologist turned the volume up another bit.
I can hear obviously more sounds and voices are louder.
So does music, but I’m wondering if I’m damaging my hearing by listening to it for extended periods of time with the volume on max on the phone(iphone, listening to iPhone Music)???
I hope I didn’t mess with my hearing…so I was wondering if you can cause yourself more hearing loss with these listening practices and volume so high trying to hear more of the music, thanks


I’ve wondered about that also. When I listen to music that would sound loud to a person with normal hearing but sounds soft to me, can it still damage my hearing because of the strength of the sound waves?

If your aids are correctly fitted then even at the max volume you are safe. But if you are like me you cannot stand to have the aids set to maximum volume.


Listening to loud music can damage your ears. So it depends on how loud your aids max out at. Ask your audi and also check with the manufacturer.

If the sound entering your ear is over 85dba, for a long period of time, it can cause permanent damage. How long depends on how much over 85dba. There are plenty of charts on the Internet. Plus an explanation can be found here Decibel Chart: All You Need to Know

IMO, knowing how loud your hearing aids max out at is essential to know the answer you are looking for.


This famous 85 db threshold applies to people with normal hearing. I suspect those who are hearing-impaired have a significantly higher pain threshold (for sound), and also may have HAs with an output well above 85 db (for those who need it). So probably the answer to this question then depends on the type of hearing loss. Loud music is known to damage the hair cells (the sensory neurons) in the inner ear. If a person’s hearing deficit is already caused by this same defect then loud HAs may present less of a risk than for those who have a different problem.
Another consideration is that people who wear HAs train their brains to process auditory information, and this actually improves people’s hearing.
So it is complicated…


As one turns up the HA, shouldn’t one be turning down the source of the sounds, if from a device?

I realize my loss is different from most (conductive, one sided, mild) but I’ve had to turn all my devices down, even after I’ve fully acclimated to HA use. I get the same volume for less.


There are two different things going on. There is the source and there is the gain that the hearing aid provides.

The source can still damage your hearing even even if the hearings aids are providing no gain. So yes reduce the source, especially for forks who are using open domes.

The hearing aids by themselves will not damage your hearing when set correctly, as there is a limit to the maximum pressure output (MPO), and the gain is adjusted for low, medium and loud inputs.

So if the source is a rock concert, your probably damaging your hearing, with or without hearing aids.

If you are streaming from your phone directly through your hearing aids, then it’s not likely to damage your hearing.


Yes this the correct way to look at this issue, HAs set at the correct MPO will not cause damage.

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I’m no expert at this, so don’t take this as professional advice.

It just seems logical to me that:

  1. If a certain dba level for a certain amount of time would damage the hair cells (cilia) in your inner ear, it wouldn’t matter if the sound was coming from a hearing aid or directly in your ear. (Example 94dba for one hour). I don’t think the hair cells know if the sound is coming from your hearing aid or not.

  2. It also seems to me that if 94dba/hour damages your ear, if you are not hearing impaired, that same 94dba/hour would damage your ears even if you are hearing impaired.

  3. Therefore, that same 94 dba/hour would damage your ear whether it is coming from your hearing aid or not.

If anyone is a true, educated expert in this field, state your qualifications and let me know if my assumptions are correct or not.

If not, explain why. I would consider that a learning opportunity.


These comments make total sense. Without HAs I can comfortably listen to e.g music at a level that is clearly deleterious (and painful!) to the ears of people with normal hearing. I once inserted my HAs into the ears of my wife, and she found the output extremely painful, so the argument that HA output is safely capped does not hold water. Something funny is going on. My hypothesis is that the most frequent cause of deafness is cochlear hair cell damage (due to ageing, exposure to loud music or, as in my case, ototoxic antibiotics in toddlers), and that once that damage is done, further injury is slow.
Many commentators claim with confidence that HAs are unlikely to worsen (what is left of) our audiogram, without citing any studies or even referring to above paradox. What you need to do is follow large cohorts of HA-users vs non-users over time, and split out the results by the mechanism of their hearing loss.
There actually was one such study:

Its results are “suggesting a greater decline in hearing ability in patients using hearing aids”, so there you go.

For a discussion citing some additional (older) papers, see also:

@BobbyBoomer, I remember you getting slammed last time you brought this up, so kudos on trying again. What you say makes sense to me.

MPO has been mentioned a few times in this thread. From what I can find, MPO is chosen based on avoiding user discomfort, not hearing damage. I think that one’s hearing may not suffer much further damage in normal situations, because the aids aren’t putting out MPO most of the time. But I think that concern is justified if one is exposed to continuous loud ambient noise that causes the aids to put out MPO for long periods, or if one streams some kinds of music loudly through hearing aids for a long time.

I’m pretty good at judging how loud is too loud.

I’m a professional musician, and I’ve used SPL meters since the 1970s to measure volume. I also used Westone or Etymotic custom ear attenuators, either 15 or 25 db depending on how loud the stage level is, to avoid anything over 85db into my ears.

After all those years of metering, and adjusting, I can hear how loud 85dba is (at least in the ballpark).

Unfortunately, I had a misdiagnosed (3 times) overactive immune response to dust mites. The inflammation response swelling cut off the blood supply to my inner ears. The ENT heard hoofbeats, expected horses, and it was zebras. So despite how careful I was about loud sounds, I got damaged anyway (sometimes you just can’t win).

I can hear that my hearing aids can pump out more than 85dlb. And I’m sure that can increase the damage to my ears. But like I said, I’m not a doctor, don’t play one on TV, so if you have evidence to the contrary, educate me.

This is why I like closed domes, and I’m going to get ear molds. In a noisy situation, I can turn my aids down, and the closed dome or earmold will act as a volume attenuator.

Without an SPL meter for reference, one can’t even judge closely how loud things are, and they are not expensive.

I suspect that the mild loss I have is a result of being a noisy classroom for hours, days, months at a time over this year. I think it might be worse than the audiogram shows in the very low tones. I am wondering if the damage will stop once the exposure stops, or will it keep going down?

I’m new here. Not sure how I got here but didn’t take long to feel at home. My first posting as a reply to the question asking about hearing damage from loud rock music, etc. My answer would be a resounding YES! Now a few qualifying notes. Athens, Greece, fall of 2004. Standing on the street just outside a phone store with my new little mobile phone in hand. I had just started trying to configure something related to sound and wasn’t hearing what I expected, inadvertently raised sound level with phone beside my left ear. Either turned speaker on, with phone up to my left ear. All of a sudden a very high-level, high-powered tone really popped with the speaker against my ear. Quite painful. physical pain. My years of technical experience made me curious about what the temporary reduced, near deaf lack of sound was all about. Later research taught me about a new db reference term. Familiarity with dBm, dBa, dBu VU and studio sound level terms I learned weren’t useful for what I had just experienced and what lead me to research what turned out to be dBspl. I am remember ing a uncovering a very helpful technical paper with details about what I learned was called a "Sound Pressure Level Meter. Something designed to measure loud sound pressure found in industrial and other indoor and outdoor sound. I’ll think about my experience for a day or to and attempt to find and or learn what I might not know on the subject and post an update. The second qualifying comment after YES! has to do with what I feel will contribute to the generally good and well-meaning comments from previous posts. More in a day or two…

Hearing Aids ‘can’ damage your hearing, just like continuous mechanical noise ‘can’. Continuous drill music ‘can’, continuous tyre noise ‘can’, continuous gunfire ‘can’……ad infinitum.

If you want the science, it’s pretty well established: sound is essentially energy transfer, the amount of energy is proportional to the area underneath the curve as it’s plotted. Added to this is the degree of intensity - which only needs to rise by 3dB to double the amount of energy transferred. If you’re bothered, you can work all of this out with Fourier/LaPlace transforms.

Broadly speaking though, the biggest factor at play when determining AVERAGE sound energy is the time length over which you get exposed. This is why riding a motorcycle for half an hour at highway speeds is significantly more detrimental than wearing hearing aids for a day, simply because of the AVERAGE amount of energy that continuous noise generates is huge relative to amplified speech. Even if they are both turned up to the same level, speech has temporal breaks and is delivered at varying intensity levels - even continuous speech has breaks for phrasing. Everyone delivers their speech differently; by language, dialect, vocal range and subject matter: this means a hearing aid is dropping peak levels of output for between 5+15% of the time listening to speech. If you need to check this, put a dB meter on your phone and take a look at it.

Listening to continuous noise sources is of course different, but that’s not representative of hearing aid wear either, simply because hearing aids are designed to reduce steady state and cyclical noise. Music is the outlier here as it’s technically both mechanical sound and has temporal factors: plus we’re inclined to turn it up more than we should.

The 80 subjects tested above are an interesting cohort to consider, but the conclusion seems not to consider the fact that ‘people with a diagnosed hearing loss (and therefore an underlying issues with their hearing) who wear hearing aids, have a greater decline than the average decline of the rest of the study’. Forgive me here, but that doesn’t really strike me as a particularly unusual finding?

Qualifications: Combined Engineering, Coventry, Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Cardiff, Hearing Aid Audiologist, Gloucester. Worked in the industry since 1997. Twenty years running my own hearing company next year. Shoe size 9(U.K.) Drives Mercedes-Benz………


I asked the same question of my audiologist as I now have (for the first time) HAs than can stream music. He said there shouldn’t be a problem but didn’t have conclusive evidence. Here’s what I have found after wearing HAs that stream music for several weeks now.

  • The sound level of the music seems pretty low, because if I don’t mute the mics then external noises are louder than the music (eg if someone talks to me I can hear them over the music)

  • However, if I stream music for several hours, my ears/brain definitely get “tired”. I did this the other day and found that I was struggling to hear the TV clearly on the normal settings I use. No problems the following day…

So based on my simplistic, non-scientific approach I think (like Um bongo says above) that prolonged streaming may have deleterious effect on hearing and I am going to limit the amount of time I do this.

This explains how my audiograms dropped nearly 20db across the board over 13+ years. My Vulcan Meanstreak with straight pipes and seldom if ever ear plugs. That and Industrial noise and fire arms at my left ear.

I do not ride anymore. I stream music a lot but at a comfortable level and much of the time at a level that I can communicate with my family while streaming :joy:.

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Then can we answer this thread’s question in the affirmative? Listening to loud music, even with hearing aids, can damage one’s hearing. Also, MPO settings don’t protect the wearer’s hearing.

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Yipes. I was afraid of that. My own hearing has deteriorated in slow but VERY steady steps down, down, DOWN. I’d like to think it couldn’t get any worse, but I would bet as bad as my ears are, they need a proper HAMMERING with volume. And that’s what I give them 16+ hours a day.

O’course I’d never know it. My comfort level is exponentially louder than most folks can tolerate - whether they wear aids or not. Thanks for sharing that study!

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What are some good ways to get a sense of the level of additional amplification above actual sound levels for external stimuli and streaming? Which input stimulus level would one look at? Then just add the gain? How does that get converted to a dBA exposure level? Is there a way to know and track the exposure levels in a manner similar to how some phones report on levels from headphones? Given aids can monitor usage, this could probably be monitored if hearing aids companies are pressured to add such a feature. Are there adjustments which can be made to reduce the risk, e.g., possibly a lower default volume for the aids or under-correcting for the loss? That likely depends upon each person’s hearing loss and the complexity of the listening environment.

This comment to the FDA discusses this problem in the OTC hearing aid context: It points to a 2017 study which provided some recommendations for a maximum safe limit that should be set on the aids based upon the severity of hearing loss. Should we be even more conservative? Are wearers being over-corrected and possibly hearing better but not as well as absolutely possible provided the best overall benefit in the long-term, especially the younger the wearer and the milder the loss.