When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning up the volume? You aren’t alone. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: there can also be appreciable damage done.
In the past we weren’t aware of the relationship between music and hearing loss. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times each day you listen and how excessive the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a fairly well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions internally. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he definitely isn’t the last. In more recent times many musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forth with their stories of hearing loss.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually results in noticeable harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time connecting this to your personal concerns. You’re not performing for large crowds. And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that’s the concern. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
This one little thing can now become a real problem.
So How Can You Protect Your Ears While Listening to Music?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). People are putting their hearing in peril and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can also take:
- Control your volume: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding safe limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You may not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any type of musical show or event), use earplugs. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
In a lot of ways, the math here is pretty straight forward: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more significant your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be tricky for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the strategy is wearing ear protection.
But all of us would be a little better off if we simply turned down the volume to practical levels.