Did you know that musicians are 57% more likely to experience tinnitus and professional musicians are almost four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss than the general public? Check out Celebrities Speak Up to see what some celebs have to say about hearing loss and tinnitus.

The reason: frequent subjection to loud sound. Over time, loud sound will irreparably damage the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for sending sound to the brain.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is permanent and most common cause of hearing loss resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. The damage caused by noise, called sensorineural hearing loss, can be caused by several factors. However, NIHL is preventable, which is why protecting our ears and hearing is so important.

The National Institutes of Health reports that about 15% of Americans ages 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss related to occupational or leisure activities. Evidence suggests that loud rock music along with increased use of personal listening devices with earphones may be further contributing to this phenomenon.

BLOCK, WALK, TURN

Hearing Health Foundation's Safe and Sound program advocates three ways to fight back against excessive noise:

  • Block the noise by wearing earplugs or protective earmuffs, like those used by airport or lawn service workers.
  • Walk away from loud noises or limit time spent in noisy environments.
  • Turn down the sound – if it’s under your control – on the growing number of tools, toys, and gadgets that add to the increasing noise level of daily life.
 
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    Source: Medical Daily; T. Schink, G. Kreutz, V. Busch, I. Pigeot, W. Ahrens. “Incidence and Relative Risk of Hearing Disorders in Professional Musicians.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102172; The National Institutes.

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    Prevention

    Even though musicians are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, the risk can be significantly lessened through the use of protective measures that preserve the sounds and harmony of the music. A hearing specialist can recommend custom musicians’ earplugs or in-ear-monitors to protect your hearing without compromising your musical performance or experience.

    Some reasons to consider custom-made earplugs: Typical foam earplugs mute speech and music, and by lessening noise primarily in the hig- frequency range, rather than in the mid- to low-frequency range, music and voices can sound unnatural and unclear. Custom-fit earplugs lower sound more smoothly across frequencies, while also reducing decibel levels, thereby maintaining the all-natural quality of speech and music.

    In addition, with foam earplugs, the user will hear a hollowed out sound in their speech when speaking, singing, or playing a musical instrument. This unnatural, muffled sound is referred to as the “occlusion effect.” Custom-fit earplugs are molded to the ear, producing a seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.

    For more tips from music enthusiasts with hearing loss, see Hearing Health magazine’s Summer 2016 article “Music Gear From the Pros.

    Source: South Shore Hearing Center