Fame, fortune, and hearing loss? They don’t have to go hand-in-hand!
What do rock singer Neil Young, blue crooner Eric Clapton, and classical music giant Ludwig Van Beethoven have in common? They’re all famous musicians. Despite the fact that they create(d) vastly different music and play(ed) to extremely different audiences, they all share one common denominator that extends beyond their common love for music. They’re among a growing list of musicians who suffer from hearing loss, the result of years of exposure to loud music. Also on this list: Barbara Streisand, Phil Collins, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Peter Townsend, Ozzy Osbourne, and many others.
The truth is, musicians share a significantly higher risk of suffering from hearing loss. In fact, the combination of hours in the recording studio and months playing their songs at full volume to stadiums full of screaming fans makes them four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). But that’s not all. According to the authors of a study published in the British Medical Journal, the increased and prolonged exposure to loud music that musicians consider an occupational hazard also makes them 57% more likely to experience tinnitus, persistent ear ringing.
What transforms this highly sought-after professional into an occupational hazard? What can musicians and music lovers do to prevent their passion from becoming a pitfall? Here’s what you need to know.
Why musicians tend to experience hearing loss more
Damage to the outer/middle or inner ear and subsequent hearing loss can be caused by several factors. Outer/middle ear damage is most often caused by earwax and ear infections, and can usually be reversed with proper medical care. However, inner ear damage, caused by prolonged exposure to loud music and/or aging, is, more often than not, irreversible.
Any noise above 85 decibels (dB) can harm the hair cells tasked with picking up sounds inside of a person’s ears - irreparably. To put this number into context, a telephone dial tone reaches about 85 dB, a drum set can reach 100 dB, and the speakers at a rock concert can bring sounds as loud as 120 dB or higher to musicians’ and fans’ ears alike.
Musicians tend to spend years, if not decades of their lives, exposed to music at strikingly loud intensities, for strikingly long intervals of time. Musicians are exposed to nearly 200% of their daily dose of noise exposure, in a single performance, on a regular basis. In addition, physiological problems caused by smoking or being in a smoky environment, which many musicians do experience, places them at an increased risk of hearing loss, possibly due to the presence of carbon monoxide in the air, though conclusive evidence has yet to be determined.
What can be done to reduce this risk?
Preventing noise exposure when working in the music industry is easier said than done, but reducing the risk of hearing damage and loss is not an impossible task. Aside from obtaining a baseline hearing test and regular checkups, musicians must protect their ears whenever they’re around or playing music or instruments. Using in-ear monitors and musicians’ earplugs (ER-15 or ER-25) can enable them to hear their music directly in their ears, at a frequency that is far safer in the long-term. Doing so also helps musicians avoid the “occlusion effect,” helping them hit target notes better, with less of an effort on their part. Vented or tuned earplugs are recommended, as they contain a tuned hole or cavity through their center that allows musicians to hear their own music while lessening the intensity of other singers and musicians in the vicinity.
Tunefork offers musicians flawless clarity of sound that is safer than ever
Good news for musicians! Tunefork’s audio personalization technology software delivers an optimal hearing experience and can be integrated into any advanced mobile operating system to optimize all audio content. We know that every person has a unique hearing “earprint” and ensure that each smart device audio system is different and perfectly attuned to those specific hearing needs. This way, musicians (and music lovers!) can rock on, without wrecking their hearing.
Want to start enjoying flawless clarity of sound without risking your hearing? Download the Tunefork app today!