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Musicians: 4 Fold Risk of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

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Pete Townshend [Image credit: flickr user Kubacheck | CC BY 2.0]
Over the past several years the news has revealed an increasing number of musicians struggling with hearing loss. Rock icons and classical musicians alike are revealing the toll excessively loud music has had on their hearing and subsequently their career. The saddest part is:

Noise induced hearing loss is 100% preventable.

According to an article published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine professional musicians are also 57% more likely to have tinnitus than general public. Tinnitus is most often characterized by incessant "ringing in the ears" that may be temporary or persistent.

Musician's Paradox: Music Increases Hearing Sensitivity?

Normally repeated long term exposure to loud noise levels causes hearing damage that reduces hearing sensitivity and the ability to hear a full range of sound (high frequency hearing loss). Published articles suggest that long term exposure to music has the opposite effect and actually increases hearing sensitivity. It's hard to believe but the musician's underlying biology is actually working against protecting them more so than a non musician.

From the article: "... musicians have been shown to develop enhanced sensitivity to meaning in non-musical sound, which might, to a certain extent, mask fundamental hearing deficits. Moreover, Zendel and Alain found that musicians might receive benefit from their training such that age-related hearing loss is attenuated. However, these observations may not apply to specific subgroups. In light of our results, it might be that many musicians prone to hearing loss do contract noise induced hearing loss before age-related hearing loss emerges."

Preventing Damage

All musicians should have protective in-ear monitors or ear plugs regardless of the type of music they are playing. Even more care should be used whenever sound amplifiers are used in order to reduce the risk or noise induced hearing loss.

Should I Get A Hearing Test?

The easiest answer is yes, if your are having any of the common signs of hearing loss:

  • Difficulty following a conversation in a noisy room such as a restaurant (background noise makes hearing more diffucult)
  • Constantly asking others to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the TV or radio to volume levels others find loud
  • Having trouble understanding conversation in noisy places
  • Being told by others that you have hearing loss

Because our hearing naturally declines as we age, medical professionals may suggest a hearing evaluation as we reach our late forties and early fifties.

Are you not hearing the conversation as easily as you once did? To hear what you have been missing, give us a call at(204) 788-1083.