Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: it can also result in some appreciable harm.
In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(both in terms of sound level 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 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 story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around at the end of the performance because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the crowd.
Beethoven is certainly not the only example of hearing issues in musicians. 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 remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and deafening crowds. The trauma which the ears experience every day gradually brings about noticeable harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Not a Musician? Still an Issue
Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a difficult time relating this to your personal concerns. You’re not playing for huge crowds. And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that’s the concern. Thanks to the contemporary capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a considerable cause for worry.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?
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 jeopardy and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some further steps too:
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be useful to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. This can help you monitor what’s dangerous and what’s not.
- Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical show or event), use earplugs. They won’t really lessen your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from additional harm. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Manage your volume: Some modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond safe limits on volume. You should adhere to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
It’s fairly simple math: you will have more significant hearing loss in the future the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for example, has completely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. That can be tough for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the strategy is hearing protection.
But turning the volume down to sensible levels is also a smart idea.