Protect Yourself: Loud Music and Hearing

Have you ever left a concert or party and your ears were ringing or your hearing seems muffled because the sound you experienced was so loud? These symptoms are your body's way of telling you that you are risking damage to your ears.

If you have to raise your voice to be heard at distances less than 3 feet, your environment is too loud.

Many are concerned about the effects of listening to loud music, particularly from MP3 players. Evidence of hearing loss from these systems is inconclusive, but you should use common sense when wearing headphones for extended periods of time. As a rule of thumb, if someone standing near you can hear the music you are listening to, it is too loud!

Hearing loss induced by noise or music can be temporary or permanent. It is a function of both the intensity (loudness) of the signal, and the amount of time (duration) one is exposed to the signal.

You are encouraged to learn more about safe sound levels and hearing protection. The following links provide more information about protecting your hearing:

Tips from The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

National Hearing Conservation Association


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Audiology Clinic
2330 Post St., Suite 270, Campus Box 0340
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-2101
Fax: (415) 353-2883

Condition Information