Hearing Health Blog

Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be considerable harm done.

In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is based on how many times per day you listen and how excessive the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

It’s a pretty well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions internally. On one occasion he even needed to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause from his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.

Beethoven is definitely not the only instance of hearing issues in musicians. In more recent times many musicians who are well known for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. Significant damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will eventually be the result.

Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue

You might think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You’re not performing for large crowds. And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.

But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And there’s the problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.

This one little thing can now become a real issue.

So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?

As with most scenarios admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in peril and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can also take:

  • Get a volume-checking app: You may not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will be aware of it.
  • Use ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any kind of musical event or show), wear hearing protection. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear protection. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the injury. (Incidentally, wearing earplugs is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
  • Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone may alert you. You should listen to these safety measures if you care about your long-term hearing.

Limit Exposure

It’s rather simple math: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.

The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. That can be tricky for people who work around live music. Part of the solution is ear protection.

But keeping the volume at reasonable levels is also a smart idea.

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