Apple Watch and iPhone can help protect you from hearing loss, according to a recent study. The study found that using the devices at high volumes for long periods of time could cause permanent damage to your hearing. However, using the devices' built-in noise-cancelling features can help reduce the amount of sound exposure and protect your hearing. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use these features to protect your hearing!
The iPhone and Apple Watch include a wide range of valuable health features, but one that doesn't get much attention is measuring ambient noise levels. Read along for tips on how to protect your hearing by checking decibel counts when using the device in everyday life or at work!
In the US, an estimated 37.5 million adults have trouble hearing, and men are believed to be twice as likely to experience hearing loss as women (via the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).
Thankfully, iPhone and Apple Watch feature both ambient (environmental) and headphone decibel monitoring that are quick and easy to use, including noise threshold warnings. That makes it much easier to prevent hearing damage and loss by knowing when to turn down the volume, use ear protection, or leave a loud environment.
How loud is too loud?
So what’s a harmful decibel level? That depends on the amount of time you’re exposed along with the level of noise. Here’s what Apple says:
Repeated, long-term exposure to sounds above 80 dB can lead to permanent damage. Consider using hearing protection or moving to a quieter area.
Apple Watch also shares examples of noise levels/time exposure that can lead to temporary hearing loss:
- 80 db: Around 5 hours and 30 minutes a day
- 85 dB: Around 1 hour and 45 minutes a day
- 90 dB: Around 30 minutes a day
- 95 dB: Just 10 minutes a day
- 100 dB: Even a few minutes a day
How to check decibel levels with iPhone and Apple Watch
Decibel levels with iPhone and iPad
Interestingly, Apple doesn’t make its watchOS Noise app available on iPhone and iPad, so here’s how to check decibel levels:
- Open the Settings app and choose Control Center
- If it’s not already showing under the “Included Controls,” swipe below and look for the green + icon next to Hearing
- Connect headphones to your iPhone
- Now open Control Center (swipe down from the top right corner of your screen) and look for the ear icon to see headphone dB levels
- To turn on alerts for loud headphone audio, head to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Headphone Notifications and tap the toggle
- And you can limit loud sounds in headphones by heading to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Headphone Safety > toggle on Reduce Loud Sounds
- If you’re playing music with headphones connected, you’ll see the decibel meter appear in the Hearing tile in Control Center
- Green desinates “OK” levels and yellow marks “Loud” levels that can damage hearing
- Tap the Hearing icon to learn more about your headphone noise levels
- With music paused, you can use the microphone of your headphones to measure the ambient decibel levels
- Tap the microphone icon that says Live Listen in the bottom left corner (or tap the Live Listen rectangle)
- Finally, you can also check your hearing history of both ambient and headphone decibel levels in the Health app
- Tap the Browse tab at the bottom
- Now choose Hearing
Check decibel levels with Apple Watch
The Noise app on your Apple Watch can be used to measure both ambient and headphone decibel levels. One neat option with the wearable is that it has quick-access readings, which you could access by either checking a box for them or installing an additional complication from within its settings menu in watchOS 3+.
- To check ambient decibel levels, open the Noise app on Apple Watch (you can also turn it on via iPhone in the Apple Watch app > Noise)
- If you haven’t used the Noise app before, choose to Enable the feature
- You can learn more about the decibel level you’re exposed to by tapping Learn More at the bottom of the Noise app
- If you want fast access to decibel levels on Apple Watch, make a watch face with the Noise app compliation
- If you don’t enable Noise app notifications when setting up the feature, you can head back to the Watch app on iPhone > Noise > Noise Threshold to change the limit/noise notificiations.
- To check headphone decibel levels on Apple Watch, open Control Center on your watch (swipe up from the bottom of the screen from your watchface)
- Swipe down to the bottom
- Tap the ear icon
And here’s a look at how Noise warnings look on Apple Watch:
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