Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? Lots of people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly enjoy. But, here’s the situation: there can also be considerable harm done.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously thought. Volume is the biggest problem(both when it comes to sound intensity and the number of listening sessions in a day). And it’s one of the reasons that many of today’s musicians are changing their tune to protect their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a rather well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions in his head. On one occasion he even needed 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 famous example of the deaf musician, but he definitely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are widely recognized 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 amazingly similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. Significant damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will ultimately be the result.
Not a Musician? Still an Issue
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a difficult time relating this to your personal concerns. You’re not playing for huge crowds. And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you daily.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a real problem. It’s become easy for each 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 Safeguard Your Ears When Listening to Music?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (additional) steps you can take too:
- Manage your volume: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding healthy limits on volume. You should adhere to these safety measures if you value your long-term hearing.
- Download a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a live concert. It can be useful to get one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. This will help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
- Wear ear protection: Put in earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music event. They won’t really diminish your experience. 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 the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
In many ways, the math here is fairly simple: you will have more significant hearing loss in the future the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. That can be tricky for people who work at a concert venue. Ear protection might offer part of a solution there.
But keeping the volume at practical levels is also a good idea.