Health Advice



Loud sounds at movies and concerts can cause hearing loss, but there are ways to protect your ears

Cory Portnuff, Assistant Clinical Professor of Audiology and Clinical Audiologist, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, The Conversation on

Published in Health & Fitness

Movie theaters can exceed 100 decibels, though usually not for extended periods of time. Generally, most people are safe when going to movies, though many moviegoers may find some louder sounds uncomfortable – like music or over-the-top sound effects, along with the explosions and gunshots. Extended watching of movies, such as a double feature, can increase a viewer’s risk.

Using a sound meter app can estimate how loud the environment is, and then you can decide if you need to protect your hearing.

For iPhones, the NIOSH SLM app is good; for Android, the Decibel X app works well. Apple Watches come with an already installed Noise app.

Here are some other tips to protect your ears:

First, if you can control the volume, turn it down. For headphones, use the 80-90 rule, which means you can listen at 80% of the maximum volume for 90 minutes per day. Turning it down gives you more time; turning it up gives you less time.

If you can’t control the volume, move farther away from the sound source. Standing next to big speakers at a concert, for instance, is often louder than being in the middle of the crowd. Taking breaks from the sound also helps.


So will earplugs or earmuffs. Although foam or rubber earplugs work, they block high frequencies, which sometimes muffles the sound. But specialty earplugs are designed to reduce loud music levels without muffling the sound. That said, for children, earmuffs are usually the easiest and safest choice.

Injury from loud sound results in premature aging of the ears. The ears of a 30-year-old with damage from loud sound may hear more like the ears of a 50-year-old. But remember, it’s largely preventable. Taking action today can help you protect and preserve your hearing for a lifetime.

This article is republished from The Conversation, an independent nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. The Conversation is trustworthy news from experts, from an independent nonprofit. Try our free newsletters.

Read more:
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Cory Portnuff does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


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