Over time, extremely loud noise will cause irreversible harm to the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. They can be damaged from repeated overexposure to loud noise. Sadly, you can’t regrow these hair cells.
Popularity, wealth, and screaming fans are all part of the life of a professional musician. In spite of this, a lot of “hearing loss” or “tinnitus” can result from all that fortune and fame. The sad fact is, a musician’s hearing is what is most vulnerable to harm from the performance of their trade.
As a matter of fact, musicians are about four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss compared with the average individual, as indicated by researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The scientific study also determined that professional musicians are roughly 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus — a condition connected with a recurring ringing in the ears.
How musicians, and fans, can protect their ears
Even though musicians are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, the threat can be substantially diminished by employing protective measures. As a result of the specialized requirements of musicians — and the importance of maintaining the debt due to the specialized requirements of musicians — and the significance of maintaining the details of sound — the initial step is to make an appointment with an audiologist.
When the below symptoms are found to exist, the harm has already been done. So, the best thing a musician can do to prevent long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before you experience symptoms.
An audiologist can recommend custom musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will give protection to your hearing without limiting your musical abilities. As a musician, you have unique needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the experts specifically trained to offer you this customized protection.
Don’t delay seeing an audiologist until you experience one or more of these symptoms:
- A ringing or buzzing noise in the ears
- Any pain or discomfort in the ears
- Difficulty comprehending speech
- Difficulty following discussions in the presence of background noise
Even concert-goers are susceptible to hearing damage. 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping from the loudspeakers right into your ears. Wear ear plugs and take other actions to protect your hearing each and every time.
Louder is not better
In non-technical terms, rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and repeated unprotected exposure can cause some substantial damage, which, sadly, many popular musicians have recently attested to.
To properly show the problem, hearing loss starts with routine exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to calculate loudness). That may well not mean much to you, until you take into account the decibel levels connected with common actions:
- Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
- Common dialogue at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
- Motorcycle: 100 dB
- Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB
Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the band Coldplay, has suffered with Tinnitus for many years. Martin said:
“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.”
Guess who else has suffered from hearing loss or tinnitus? Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which express regret that they hadn’t done more to give protection to their ears through the course of 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.”
Take this as a warning and get your hearing checked. Wear ear plugs and do all you can to protect your precious ears, especially if you are a musician or a frequent concert goer.