Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? You aren’t on your own. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really enjoy. But, here’s the situation: there can also be significant damage done.
The relationship between hearing loss and music is closer than we once understood. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times a day you listen and how intense the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a pretty famous 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 story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the audience.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing problems in musicians. In more recent times lots of musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely loud volumes are coming out with their stories of hearing loss.
From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all seem amazingly similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually leads to noticeable harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be a Problem
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this may not apply to you. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you daily.
But you do have a couple of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a serious problem. It’s become effortless for every single one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.
The ease with which you can subject yourself to damaging and constant sounds make this one time cliche complaint into a significant cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Hearing?
As with most situations admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in peril and have to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:
- Keep your volume in check: If you exceed a safe listening level, your smartphone might alert you. You should adhere to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
- Wear earplugs: 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 protection. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the damage. (By the way, wearing ear protection is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
- Get a volume-monitoring app: You may not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be calculated with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and isn’t.
It’s fairly straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he started wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
The best way to minimize your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. That can be challenging for individuals who work around live music. Part of the solution is wearing ear protection.
But all of us would be a lot better off if we just turned the volume down to practical levels.