Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? You aren’t alone. There’s something visceral about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But, here’s the situation: it can also cause some significant harm.

In the past we weren’t aware of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times per day you listen and how extreme the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach coping with the volume of their music.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

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 narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around at the end of the performance because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the audience.

Beethoven might be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he definitely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day stuck between blaring speakers and booming crowds. The trauma that the ears experience every day eventually results in significant harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.

Not a Musician? Still a Problem

As a non-rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time connecting this to your personal concerns. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.

But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a serious concern. Thanks to the advanced capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.

This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.

So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing?

So, the first step is that we admit there’s a problem (that’s usually the first step, but it’s especially true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (further) steps you can also take:

  • Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any type of musical event or show), use earplugs. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear plugs. But your ears will be safeguarded from further harm. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
  • Get a volume-checking app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be beneficial to get one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and isn’t.
  • Keep your volume under control: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. If you care about your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.

Limit Exposure

It’s fairly straight forward math: you will have more serious hearing loss later in life the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely 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 difficult for individuals who work at a concert venue. Ear protection could supply part of an answer there.

But keeping the volume at sensible levels is also a good idea.

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