Professional musicians at greater risk of developing hearing loss

The top action a musician can do to deter long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before symptoms are present. If he or she waits till there are symptoms, consider the damage already done.

If you’re a musician, an audiologist can recommend custom made musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will give protection to your hearing without limiting your musical performance. As a musician, you have unique needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the professionals specifically trained to provide this custom protection.

Considering the unique requirements of musicians — as well as the significance of protecting the details of sound — the best road to take is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist.

How musicians, and fans, can protect their ears

Hearing loss starts with recurrent exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to measure loudness). That may well not mean a great deal to you, until you reflect on the decibel levels correlated with common activities:

  • Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
  • Regular dialogue at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
  • Motorcycle: 100 dB
  • Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB

Rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and continued unprotected exposure can cause some considerable harm, which several popular musicians know all too well.

Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the band Coldplay, has dealt with with Tinnitus for a decade. According to Martin:

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Other significant musicians that suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus include Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which indicate regret that they hadn’t done more to take care of their ears all through their careers. Lars Ulrich from Metallica points out:

“If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”

You may regret it later if you don’t take precautions now, so see an audiologist today, especially if you’re a musician.

Prolonged Exposure

A musician’s hearing is what is most predisposed to damage from the performance of their craft. Fame, wealth, and screaming fans — these are a couple of the terms and phrases you’d pick in order to summarize the everyday life of a professional musician. however, what you probably wouldn’t take into consideration is “hearing loss” or “tinnitus,” the not-so-pleasant side-effects of all that glory, wealth, and screaming.

The culprit of all that hearing loss is recurring subjection to deafening noise. In the long run, loud noise will irreparably destroy the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for sending sound to the brain. Like an ample patch of grass worn out from frequent trampling, the hair cells can in a similar fashion be wiped out from repeated overexposure to loud noise – the dissimilarity, of course, being that you can’t grow brand new hair cells.

It’s a startling fact that musicians are close to four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss in contrast with the average person, according to scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The scientific study also discovered that professional musicians are about 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus — a disorder connected with a repeated ringing in the ears.

Unfortunately, musicians don’t see an audiologist until it’s too late and they experience:

  • A ringing or buzzing sound in the ears
  • Any pain or discomfort in the ears
  • Difficulty comprehending speech
  • Trouble following discussions in the presence of background noise

The trouble is, when these symptoms are present, the damage has already been done. Do what you can to curb this risk and get seen by a hearing health specialist.

8 Reasons Hearing Loss is More Dangerous Than You Think

warning sign

Hearing loss is treacherously sneaky. It creeps up on you through the years so little by little you barely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And then, when you at last recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and irritating as its most harmful consequences are hidden.

For a staggering 48 million Us citizens that claim some measure of hearing loss, the consequences are far greater than simply inconvenience and frustration.1 The Following Are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is significantly more dangerous than you might believe:

1. Connection to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging suggests that people with hearing loss are considerably more likely to suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, when compared with individuals who preserve their hearing.2

Although the cause for the connection is ultimately unknown, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia might share a common pathology, or that several years of straining the brain to hear could create damage. An additional theory is that hearing loss often times results in social isolation — a main risk factor for dementia.

Regardless of the cause, recovering hearing may be the optimum prevention, including the use of hearing aids.

2. Depression and social isolation

Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown a strong connection between hearing impairment and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3

3. Not hearing alerts to danger

Car horns, ambulance and law enforcement sirens, and fire alarms all are developed to notify you to potential danger. If you miss out on these alerts, you put yourself at an heightened risk of injury.

4. Memory impairment and mental decline

Studies show that individuals with hearing loss encounter a 40% greater rate of decline in cognitive function compared to individuals with healthy hearing.4 The leading author of the study, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, said that “going forward for the next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages.” that is why growing awareness as to the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s highest priority.

5. Lowered household income

In a study of over 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was shown to adversely influence household income by as much as $12,000 annually, dependent on the level of hearing loss.5 individuals who wore hearing aids, however, minimized this impact by 50%.

The ability to communicate in the workplace is vital to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are repeatedly ranked as the number one job-related skill-set coveted by managers and the top factor for promotion.

6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it

When considering the human body, “use it or lose it” is a saying to live by. For example, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or reduce in size as time goes by, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical activity and repeated use that we can recover our physical strength.

The same phenomenon applies to hearing: as our hearing weakens, we get caught in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a fast growing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can appear with hearing loss.

7. Underlying medical conditions

Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and consistent exposure to loud noise, hearing loss is occasionally the symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Potential ailments include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
  • Ménière’s disease – a disease of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions from foreign objects
  • Tumors
  • Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance problems

As a result of the seriousness of some of the ailments, it is recommended that any hearing loss is quickly evaluated.

8. Greater risk of falls

Research has exposed a large number of links between hearing loss and dangerous conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. A further study carried out by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has discovered still another disheartening connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6

The research shows that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, labeled as mild, were close to three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every extra 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.

Don’t wait to get your hearing tested

The favorable side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that protecting or recovering your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks completely. For those of you that have normal hearing, it is more crucial than ever to protect it. And for the people suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services of a hearing specialist immediately.

Sources

  1. Hearing Loss Association of America: Basic Facts About Hearing Loss
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study
  3. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: NIDCD Researchers Find Strong Link between Hearing Loss and Depression in Adults
  4. Medscape: Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline, Impairment
  5. Better Hearing Institute: The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income
  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling

Preventing work related hearing loss with high fidelity, custom-fit ear plugs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2009 there were 21,000 occurrences of occupational hearing loss reported. Check out this story:

Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows all about the work-related risks of noise. He in fact worked on screening and fixing police car sirens — which reach between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.

After retiring, Twigg started to experience severe tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that required the use of hearing aids. Having failed to take on the protective methods that would mitigate the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found responsible in court, losing a case in which Twigg would win a considerable settlement.

Curb Hearing Loss

Is it possible to prevent work related hearing loss? It sure is. Just use custom fit ear ones rather than foam ones. The sound measure at which repeated exposure can result in severe hearing damage: 85 decibels. The sound level hit by a rock concert, which is not-so-good news for musicians or show goers: 100 decibels. Around 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to unsafe noise levels, representing one of the top work-related threats over the previous 25 years, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Schedule an appointment and protect your ears

Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also maintain the quality of sound. In order to preserve your quality of hearing, get custom-fit ear plugs. If you work in a occupation that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in booming shows or sporting events, schedule an appointment with a hearing consultant today.

Performers aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel levels associated with normal work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a aircraft takeoff 150. music players, manufacturing plant workers, construction workers, airport personnel, emergency personnel, plumbers, and craftsmen are all at risk of developing extreme hearing loss and tinnitus.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are a better choice than the foam kind

You may be interested to know there are many reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.

1. Prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the wearer will perceive a hollow sound in their voice when speaking, singing, or playing an instrument. This bothersome sound is known as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, forming a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.

2. Preservation of sound quality
Basic foam ear plugs mute speech and music. By suppressing noise mostly in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices appear to be unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also diminish sound by 30-40 decibels, which is not needed for the deterrence of hearing injury.

Custom-fit ear plugs will lower sound more consistently across frequencies while lessening sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby maintaining the natural quality of speech and music.

3. Cost & convenience
Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, ordinarily at a price tag of well below $100.

Let’s do some calculations on the throw-away foam plugs:
$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair
$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60
With custom-fit ear plugs, you will save cash in the long run and will avoid all of those journeys to the store. No one enjoys purchasing ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a burden, in the long run you will also conserve time.

4. Preserving the environment
Throw-away ear plugs are very wasteful:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs tossed out each year.

It’s easier than you think to prevent work-related hearing loss. All you have to do is get custom ear plugs instead of the garden variety.

How to protect your ears at work

How can you cut down on noise exposure at work? All you have to do is reduce the level of noise that comes in through your ear. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, not really. You could just pick up some disposable foam ear plugs at the store but there’s a better way. The preferred method requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing practitioner can tailor specifically to you. Make that appointment today!

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