Home > School and Learning > By Subject > The Arts > Music > Loud Music and Hearing Loss

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Loud Music and Hearing Loss

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: My 16-year-old son goes to concerts a few times a year and, when he comes home, he has a hard time hearing. After an hour or so, he can hear fine, but I want to know if this is a sign that he is losing his hearing. Should I be concerned, and what signs of hearing loss should I look for?

A: Your son's difficulty hearing after a loud concert is normal. Loud noises (music, in his case) can cause dull and muffled hearing, buzzing, or ringing in the ears. This usually disappears after a few hours. It's believed that your ears stop hearing in the same way as a response to the loud noise, but then "bounce back" after the noise is removed. It's unlikely that your son will develop hearing problems from occasionally attending a concert where the sound level is very high. Hearing loss is thought to occur when someone experiences loud noises repeatedly because the ears may lose the ability to "bounce back."

Sound levels are measured in decibels and based on a scale of 0 (low) to 140 (high). Sixty decibels (dB), which is about the level of normal conversation, is considered a safe level of sound. The National Communication Disorder Institute reports that 85 decibels and above can cause damage to the inner ear and may result in hearing loss. Concerts fall around 105-110 dB, as do lawnmowers and bulldozers, but it is believed that the risk of hearing loss is low since the length of time your ears are exposed to these levels is relatively short. The risk is greater among people who are regularly exposed to these high levels and do not wear protective ear coverings.

If you are concerned about your son's hearing, the best thing to do is have him get a hearing test to check for any hearing damage. It is not easy for a person to detect mild hearing loss because there are usually no obvious signs; only when hearing loss becomes more severe is it noticeable. Signs of severe hearing loss may include distorted or muffled sounds that are particularly obvious in social situations. Unfortunately, these signs seem to be present only after permanent hearing loss has occurred.

Attending concerts a few times each year is unlikely to cause permanent hearing loss, but everyone should avoid repeated, frequent exposure to loud sounds.

Hank Bernstein
Children's Hospital

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks