March 17, 2020
Loud music is one of the common risks we all face that could threaten our hearing in the future, whether it's listening to music on headphones on the morning commute, or going to noisy gigs at the weekend.
But it's especially important to know about hearing protection for musicians, who spend even more of their time in that kind of environment as well as in recording studios, rehearsing in small rooms and soon.
If music is your life and career, then your hearing is an investment - so don't risk losing it because you didn't take sensible precautions when you were just starting out.
You can understand your risk better just by measuring the level of sound you are commonly exposed to.
According to the British Tinnitus Association, a live symphony orchestra can reach 94 dB and a live rock concert hits 112 dB.
Anything over 85 dB is unsafe so if your band often goes above that level, you should think about wearing ear protection during performances, as well as in rehearsals if those are equally loud.
Wearing earplugs on stage doesn't have to mean you can't hear yourself play or sing; it's only the cheapest foam earplugs that muffle music in this way.
Even spending just a small amount more, you can get earplugs that reduce the full spectrum of audible frequencies evenly, so the quality and fidelity of the music is the same but quieter.
At the top end, there are digital earplugs that can monitor the sound coming into your ear and may be a good investment if you work with loud music week in, week out.
If you're a musician with hearing loss or even if you're an audience member who feels like you may have sustained hearing damage from loud music, consult a professional.
Damage to the ear from loud music can manifest itself as pain in the ear, partial hearing loss, or as tinnitus (hearing buzzing,rustling or whistling noises that are not there).
A professional can help you to decide how best to proceed -and may be able to recommend a procedure that restores your hearing, such as earwax removal.
Even if not, there are almost invisible hearing aids that sit inside the ear canal, and tiny devices that can mask the noises of tinnitus, so you can get back your quality of life.