When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking up the volume? You aren’t alone. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also result in some considerable damage.
The relationship between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously thought. 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 it’s one of the reasons that countless of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Hearing Loss And Musicians
It’s a fairly famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions in his head. There’s even one narrative about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed 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 famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and booming crowds. Significant damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will eventually be the result.
Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this may not apply to you. You’re not playing for huge 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. 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 substantial problem.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Safeguard Your Ears?
As with most scenarios admitting that there’s a problem is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can take too:
- Wear earplugs: Use earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will protect your ears from the worst of the damage. (Incidentally, wearing earplugs is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be helpful to download one of several free apps that will provide you with a volume measurement of your environment. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Keep your volume under control: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone might let you know. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
In many ways, the math here is rather simple: the more often you put your ears at an increased risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have started protecting his hearing sooner.
The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. For musicians (and for individuals who happen to work at music venues), that can be a challenge. Part of the solution is hearing protection.
But everybody would be a little better off if we simply turned the volume down to sensible levels.