Professional musicians are almost four times as likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) as the general public, reveals research. And they are 57% more likely to develop tinnitus—incessant ringing in the ears—as a result of their job, the findings show. NIHL can be caused by sudden very loud noise, such as an explosion or gunfire, but it may also develop gradually as a result of repeated exposure to loud noise, suggest the authors of study published in British Medical Journal.
The reason: frequent subjection to loud sound. Over time, loud sound will irreparably damage the hair cells of the inner ear, which a sensory receptors responsible for sending sound to the brain.
NIHL is permanent and most common cause of hearing loss resulting from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. The damage caused by noise—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.
TIPS FOR MUSICIANS
Get a hearing test.
Baseline hearing levels are important to obtain for anybody exposed to loud music on a regular or even semiregular basis. Ask to be tested on a range of 125 to 20,000 hertz, as the very high frequencies often show a loss first. If you’ve had ringing in your ears, consider including a tinnitus assessment.
Know your range.
If you are mixing in the studio, use in-ear monitors and the equalizer to adjust for any frequency bands you may be missing. You can also use equalizer controls to adjust the sound to offer some sound cues that you may not be otherwise getting because of a hearing loss.
Use in-ear monitors.
In-ear monitors allow musicians to hear the music mix directly in their ears. Work closely with your audiologist to choose in-ear monitors appropriate for your needs, and learn to use them properly for maximum protection.
Musician’s earplugs do more than protect hearing.
You can hear your own voice or your own instrument more clearly when wearing musician’s earplugs. This helps you better hit notes without straining.
Source: Melissa Heche, Au.D.