Celebrity, fortune, and screaming fans — these are a couple of the words and phrases you’d select in order to summarize the lifestyle of a professional musician. however, what you more than likely wouldn’t think about is “hearing loss” or “tinnitus,” the not-so-enjoyable side-effects of all that fame, fortune, and screaming. The sad paradox is, a musician’s hearing is just what is most susceptible to injury from the performance of their trade.
In fact, musicians are close to four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss in contrast with the average person, as reported by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The study also confirmed that professional musicians are around 57% more likely to develop tinnitus — an ailment connected with a on going ringing in the ears.
The root cause: frequent subjection to loud sound. Over time, loud noise will irreparably cause harm to the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for transferring sound to the brain. Like an abundant patch of grass worn out from repeated trampling, the hair cells can likewise be destroyed from repeated overexposure to loud noise – the distinction, of course, being that you can’t plant new hair cells.
Louder is not better
To illustrate the issue, hearing loss starts with routine exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to gauge loudness). That may very well not mean very much to you, until you have a look at the decibel levels connected with common events:
Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
Common conversation at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
Motorcycle: 100 dB
Front row at a rock concert: 120 to 150 dB
In non-technical terms, rock concerts are literally ear-splittingly loud, and continued unprotected exposure can cause some severe damage, which, sadly, several notable musicians have recently attested to.
Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the band Coldplay, has suffered with Tinnitus for many years. According to Martin:
“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”
Other celebrated musicians that suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus include Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which convey regret that they hadn’t done more to safeguard their ears throughout their careers. Lars Ulrich from Metallica stated::
“If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”
How musicians can protect their ears with musician’s plugs
Even though musicians are at a higher risk for acquiring hearing loss or tinnitus, the threat can be substantially lowered by taking protective measures. Due to the specialized requirements of musicians — and the importance of preserving the detBecause of the specialized requirements of musicians — and the importance of conserving the details of sound — the first step is to make an appointment with an hearing specialist.
Here’s a common mistake: musicians will often wait to see an audiologist until they experience one or more of these signs or symptoms:
A ringing or buzzing sound in the ears
Any pain or discomfort in the ears
Difficulty comprehending speech
Trouble following discussions in the presence of background noise
The trouble is, when these symptoms are found to exist, the damage has already been done. So, the leading thing a musician can do to avoid long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before symptoms are present.
If you’re a musician, an hearing specialist can recommend tailor made musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will protect your hearing without compromising your musical performance. As a musician, you have unique needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the professionals specifically trained to offer you this custom protection.
Additionally, remember that it’s not only musicians at risk: concert-goers are just as vulnerable. So the next time you’re front row at a rock show, remember that 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping straight from the speakers right into your ears.