Do you crank the volume up when your favorite tune comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should understand: there can also be significant damage done.
In the past we weren’t conscious of the relationship between hearing loss and music. That has a lot to do with volume (both when it comes to sound intensity and the number of listening sessions each day). And it’s one of the reasons that lots of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions in his head. On one occasion he even had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause of his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.
Beethoven might be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few 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 seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. The trauma which the ears experience every day gradually leads to noticeable harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a difficult time relating this to your own worries. You’re not performing for large crowds. And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that’s the concern. Thanks to the advanced capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness will help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also need to take some further steps too:
- Use earplugs: When you attend a rock concert (or any kind of musical event or show), wear earplugs. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the injury. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Control your volume: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone may let you know. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. In this way, when hazardous levels are reached you will be aware of it.
It’s fairly simple math: you will have more significant hearing loss later in life the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have begun protecting his ears sooner.
Limiting exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. That can be challenging for people who work around live music. Ear protection may provide part of a solution there.
But all of us would be a little better off if we simply turned down the volume to sensible levels.