Musicians and Hearing Loss

If you work in the field of music, either as a composer, producer, engineer, designer etc. then you should know that there are certain dangers to which you expose yourself when listening to music with the volume too loud for a long time. Hearing loss is a reality for musicians, so spend the next few minutes to read our article on hearing loss, risk and protection practices:

The noise represents the acoustic level to which the musician is exposed throughout his or her artistic activity. Each and every time they sing, may it be on the stage or in the rehearsal room, being exposed to loud noises can affect the entire body, but especially the organ of hearing.

Sound Waves and the Ear
Sound Waves and the Ear (Source: wikimedia.org)

There are several types of noise:

  • Having a duration of action of milliseconds
  • Having a duration of action of seconds
  • Mixed

The action of noise on the organ of hearing depends on the type of the noise, on its duration of action and on its intensity. Due to its anatomy, the human ear can auto-protect itself from intensities of up to 80-85dB, but beyond this limit, the noise can cause hearing lesions leading to temporary or permanent deafness.

Maximum Recommended Time Exposed To Decibel Levels

Acute Acoustic Traumas

These are caused by being exposed to impulsive sounds of high intensities, up to 150dB, for a few seconds; these types of noises can be found in nightclubs (100-110dB), rock concerts (120-130dB), walkmans (90-110dB), plain engines or motorcycle exhaust sounds (100dB).

Chronic Acoustic Traumas

These are caused by being exposed to repeated, daily sounds of intensities of 80-85dB, for 6-8h/per days, for several years. These types of acoustic traumas are found in miners, workers on building sites, in plants, in airports, radio operators, military personnel, musicians in orchestras or rock bands.

The Symptom

It can vary from a slight discomfort to severe pain, depending on the causative factor. It can be accompanied by pain, the sensation of a clogged ear, whizzing or other noises in the ear and sometimes dizziness and balance disorders.

In the case of professional exposure to noise, the hearing loss is progressive and it can be felt as a difficulty of perceiving speech in loud spaces or, often, as ear whizzing.

The Diagnosis

It is based on a clinical ENT examination, on radiology examinations or acoustic and vestibular tests.

In the case of professional deafness, the treatment is the auditory prosthesis, change of profession or using protective headphones.

If the treatment is rapidly applied and the hearing is protected by the usage of antiphonic earplugs, complete recovery is attained in 75% up to 100% of cases.

In the case of acute acoustic traumas, the hearing loss can progress to a permanent loss of hearing.

In acoustic traumas due to professional exposure to noise, and here we are talking about musicians, the hearing loss no longer progresses if the noise exposure is stopped.

Famous musicians who lost their hearing: Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Chris Martin, Franki Valli (Four Seasons), Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Pete Townshend (Who’s guitarist)

Advice:

  • Always wear protective headphones if you go to the rehearsal room often.
  • Do not rehearse using the maximum level of the amplifier unless it is necessary.
  • Do not stay in front rows or near the speakers when you go to concerts.
  • Do not listen to loud music with your headphones, the best thing to do would be using extra auricular headphones.
  • Go see a doctor if your ear has clogged inexplicably and it doesn’t get better in 24h!

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