Do you turn up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. There’s something intuitive about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But, here’s the situation: it can also result in some significant harm.
In the past we weren’t familiar with the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(this is in regards to how many times each day you listen and how intense the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a fairly famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he created (except in his head). On one occasion he even had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause of his audience because he couldn’t hear it.
Beethoven is definitely not the only instance of hearing problems in musicians. In more recent times lots of musicians who are well known for playing at very 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. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day eventually leads to noticeable damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a hard time relating this to your personal concerns. You’re not playing for huge crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious problem. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a considerable cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness will help some people (particularly younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also need to take some further steps too:
- Wear earplugs: When you go to a rock concert (or any type of musical show or event), use earplugs. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear protection. But your ears will be protected from further harm. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Keep your volume under control: If you go above a safe listening level, your smartphone may alert you. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You might not recognize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be useful to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will know it.
In a lot of ways, the math here is rather straight forward: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he started wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. That can be difficult for people who work at a concert venue. Ear protection might supply part of an answer there.
But turning the volume down to sensible levels is also a good idea.