Professional musicians at greater risk of developing hearing loss

The sad fact is, once you start feeling symptoms of hearing loss, the damage has already been done. It is often irreversible. Many musicians fall victim to hearing damage, but they can take steps to prevent long-term, permanent hearing loss by scheduling an appointment with an audiologist before you experience symptoms.
Although rock stars are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, they can take certain protective measures to avoid this.

Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the band Coldplay, has suffered from tinnitus for many years. He says:
“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Several other musicians have suffered hearing damage, such as Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which express regret that they hadn’t done more to give protection to their ears through the course of their careers. Lars Ulrich from Metallica stated: “If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”
Go see an audiologist for advice. He or she can test your hearing and suggest remedies, such as custom ear plugs.

How musicians, and fans, can protect their ears

An audiologist can recommend custom musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will give protection to your hearing without limiting your musical abilities. As a musician, you have unique needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the experts specifically trained to offer you this customized protection.
Many musicians can experience one or more of these symptoms:
Difficulty comprehending speech
Difficulty following discussions in the presence of background noise
A ringing or buzzing noise in the ears
Any pain or discomfort in the ears

Even concert-goers are susceptible to hearing damage. 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping from the loudspeakers right into your ears. Wear ear plugs and take other actions to protect your hearing each and every time.
Louder is not better
To properly show the problem, hearing loss starts with routine exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to calculate loudness). That may well not mean much to you, until you take into account the decibel levels connected with common actions.

In non-technical terms, rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and repeated unprotected exposure can cause some substantial damage, which, sadly, many popular musicians have recently attested to. Check this out:
Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
Common dialogue at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
Motorcycle: 100 dB
Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB

Exposure over Time

Over time, extremely loud noise will cause irreversible harm to the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. They can be damaged from repeated overexposure to loud noise. Sadly, you can’t regrow these hair cells.
Popularity, wealth, and screaming fans are all part of the life of a professional musician. In spite of this, a lot of “hearing loss” or “tinnitus” can result from all that fortune and fame. The sad fact is, a musician’s hearing is what is most vulnerable to harm from the performance of their trade.

Take a look at the facts: musicians are four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss compared with the average individual, says researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The scientific study also determined that professional musicians are roughly 57% more likely to suffer from tinnitus.

To prevent this from occurring in your own life, take the necessary measures to protect your ears, such as through ear plugs and regular visits t your audiologist.

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Preventing work related hearing loss with high fidelity, custom-fit ear plugs

You could be putting yourself at risk every day for hearing damage, especially if you play in a rock band or regularly attend concerts.
However, performers aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel volumes associated with conventional work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newsprint press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting show 105, and a jet plane takeoff 150. performers, factory workers, construction workers, airport staff, emergency workers, plumbers, and craftsmen are all at risk of developing major hearing loss and tinnitus.

85 decibels. That’s the sound level at which repeated exposure can result in significant hearing damage.
100 decibels. that is the noise degree reached by a rock show, which is not-so-good news for musicians or live concert goers.

It’s also a component of a larger problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to detrimental sound volumes, representing one of the biggest occupational threats over the past 25 years.

Work-related hearing loss impacts thousands

Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England, worked on diagnosing and repairing police car sirens — which get to between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.
After retirement, Twigg started to suffer intense tinnitus in addition to substantial hearing loss that obligated the usage of hearing aids. Having failed to take on the defensive measures that would decrease the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would obtain a considerable settlement.
This story is in line with the statistics: the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2009 there were about 21,000 cases of occupational hearing loss documented.

How to protect your ears at work

So here’s the problem: the world requires music players, craftsmen, and emergency and construction staff, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.
The remedy? minimize the level of noise that comes in through your ear. Simple, right? Well…not so fast.
You could simply travel to the neighborhood store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much higher quality alternative.
The ideal method requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, sometimes referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing consultant can personalize specifically to you, your job, and your needs.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior than the off-the-shelf foam variety

Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are far superior to foam ear plugs:
1. maintenance of sound quality
Regular foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By limiting sound mainly in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices sound unnatural and indecipherable. Foam ear plugs also minimize sound by 30-40 decibels, which is excessive for the prevention of hearing injury.
Custom-fit ear plugs will minimize sound more evenly across frequencies while lessening sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby maintaining the all natural quality of speech and music.

2. prevention of the “Occlusion Effect”
With foam ear plugs, the user will hear a hollowed out or boomy sound in their voice when speaking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This aggravating noise is referred as the “occlusion effect.”
Custom-fit ear plugs are shaped to the ear, generating a deep seal that helps prevent this distracting sound.

3. preserving the environment
Disposable ear plugs create a lot of waste:
5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out every single year.

4. price & convenience
Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, almost always at a price tag of well below $100.

Take a look at the cost for disposable foam plugs:
$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair
$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60
With custom-fit ear plugs, you will certainly save money in the long run and will prevent all of those visits to the store. No one looks forward to picking out ear plugs, so while the initial visit to the audiologist seems like a burden, in the long run you will also conserve time.

Schedule a consultation

Make an appointment with your doctor to get custom-fit ear plugs, particularly if your occupation exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you attend rowdy live shows or sporting events. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and distinct from the disposable foam varieties, will also conserve the high quality of sound for your optimal health.

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How Ibuprofen Can Lead to Hearing Loss

There are all manner of things that can be done to prevent hearing loss. Did you know that one of them might rely upon which bottle of medication you pick up to help you overcome minor aches and pains? Ibuprofen, as harmless as it may seem, can cause hearing loss when it is taken over a long period of time. With this knowledge, we must look at cause and preventative measures to protect our hearing.

Conclusive Findings

Following over 60,000 women for 14 years revealed that those who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen two or more times in a week were at a much higher risk for hearing loss than any others. These results were published in the latest volume of the American Institute for Advanced Epidemiology, and found that a quarter of the study participants had suffered from hearing loss while their non-medicating counterparts did not.

Causes

There are many different ways that the medication could potentially cause hearing loss in otherwise healthy individuals. One of them is by the medicine restricting the amount of blood that is available in an individual’s inner ear, which can lessen the amount of hearing that is able to take place due to structural damage. The other most common way is by the chemicals in the ibuprofen binding in sites in the ear causing there to be fewer ways for the sounds coming in to be interpreted. As a result, the hearing is diminished and the person is not able to hear well. The researchers believe that this will be common with men as well, and say that the best thing that you can do is to discontinue the medication if you believe that you have been suffering due to the drugs.

More Research

There is a new research project that is looking to see if the links between women and medication- induced hearing loss are the same or whether they are different to men. There is an additional study that shows more promise to find aggravating risk factors in women such as certain levels of hormones as well as whether the individual drinks a great deal of alcohol. Both studies are years from completion.

What to Do

If you believe that you are a person that is going to suffer from hearing loss induced by medication, the first thing that you should do is consult a doctor. You should also understand that just because it can cause hearing loss does not mean that you should not manage your pain wisely. Talk to your doctor and see if you can come up with a plan that will work to give you access to pain management medication as well as a sense of how your hearing is at the present moment. By working together, you can find a new way to feel confident in your medication choices and hearing.

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Brain Hearing Restores Optimal, Natural Hearing

Brain hearing is a phenomenon that is sweeping the hearing loss communities around the world. For too long people have relied on the hearing aids that have been ineffective at meeting their needs, and now, with the help of these ingenious devices, people are being given a second chance to hear well again. Brain hearing is a complex solution to a very complex problem, but it has shown many signs that it could be just the solution that everyone has been looking for. We will take a look to see why researchers and people with hearing loss alike are so thrilled by this device.

What Is Brain Hearing?

Brain hearing is a process that begins when people understand that hearing does not only involve the ears, but the brain as well. Many models of hearing aids that are on the market tend to focus on just the damage done to the ears to help people with hearing loss. They attempt to amplify sounds and then push them into the inner ear for interpretation, with limited results. Poor sound quality and processing exhaustion are two common outcomes.

Thankfully, researchers have discovered a new approach to hearing loss and have discovered a more intimate way of looking at how sound is processed in the brain. Armed with this knowledge, they have made a device that capitalizes on this knowledge to help people hear well again.

How Do Brain Hearing Devices Function?

Brain hearing devices can lead to incredible hearing outcomes for most patients. They do this by only changing the incoming sounds that the inner ear could not handle on their own and passing them along to the brain. This limits the amount of sound amplifying that has to occur in order to induce hearing and leaves the user with a more natural version of incoming sound. This leads to four incredible benefits that make these aids unique.

  1. Sound Focusing: people who use brain hearing aids can pick out certain sounds even in the presence of competing noise.

  2. Spatial recognition: since the brain hearing aid takes in sound from both ears, you can figure out where the sound came from like someone with normal hearing levels.

  3. Speech recognition: your device will focus on speech patterns around you, letting you home in on personal conversations better than a regular aid.

  4. Sound Filtering: a brain hearing device can do away with unwanted sounds in a conversation that would cause distraction or sensory unpleasantness in other devices.

What Does Everyone Think?

There have been many studies done about the recent mainstream release of the brain hearing device. These devices have garnered a great deal of professional support as well as support from people who have used them, culminating in a 95% approval rate from these sources.

For those that are still stuck using the older models of hearing aids, they only have a 79% approval rate for their personal devices, showing how much of a leap forward these devices represent.

Lining Up To Get One

Before you hop into your vehicle and go to the superstore, be aware that you cannot purchase these brain hearing aids there. You have to make an appointment to meet with a professional audiologist who can work with you to help outline your needs and customize the device. After you have been fitted, you will understand where all of the extra time goes in, as you will hear better than ever before an even pick up on some sounds that you may not have noticed along the way.

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Electric Cochlear Implants: Functions And Benefits

Cochlear implants are one of the most significant forms of hearing help that have been developed over the last ten years. These devices have not gotten as much attention as the digital hearing aids that most people are seen wearing. However, that does not make the incredible technology any less significant to the people who are beginning to see how beneficial this technology can be to people around the world. That is why we are going to take a look at the benefits of electric cochlear implants to see how they work and why they have incredible staying power.

Cochlear Implant Parts

There are many different parts that make up an electric cochlear implant. In order to conceptualize these devices successfully, it is best to look at the parts of the device that are on the inside and the outside of the body. The bio-mechanical parts that are actually implanted within the human body are the electrode bundle as well as the receiver device. Outside of the head are the microphone, transmitter, and the speech processor unit. Together, these pieces make the electric cochlear implant possible.

The Incredible Functions

The electric cochlear implant has a very specific order of operations that must occur for the sound to become an effective signal within the brain. First, the sounds must be picked up by a microphone on the outside of the device. This transfers the sound over to the speech processing unit, located either next to the ear or worn elsewhere on the body. From there, the newly-digitized sound is sent through the device and over to the transmitter where it can be sent within the body to the waiting receiver unit. The receiver unit is implanted within the skin and is linked to the final piece of the device, the electrode bundle. These electrodes interpret the sound and then stimulate the auditory nerves throughout the ear so that the sound can be “heard” in a synthetic mode. While the sound is not the highest quality for everyone, it still offers incredible levels of benefits for people who suffer from severe impairment.

The Benefits Of Electric Cochlear Implants

Electric cochlear implants come with many different benefits that are not typically experienced through hearing aid devices. For example, hearing aids work with the existing hearing structures to elicit hearing. However, people who have severely damaged ears cannot hear sound through typical means, which is where the cochlear implant can help. It does not use the eardrum to produce sound, rather, it directly stimulates the nerves responsible for sound. The end result is that the entire ear is bypassed by the new process, letting the most disadvantaged listeners able to hear in a new fashion. This is the greatest benefit of electric cochlear implants and why they have been such a welcome device.

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How Music Influences Moods

For centuries, people have found that music helps them to boost energy and mood–some even claim that music helps them heal more quickly. In fact, studies now show that music can either improve or reinforce your mood–which gives you a better quality of life.

Researchers from the University of Missouri concluded that upbeat music lifts a person’s mood. Participants in their study were told to improve their moods but only succeeded in doing so after listening to the upbeat songs of Copeland, as opposed to the sadder tunes of Stravinsky. However, when other participants were not told to improve their moods while music played, they remained the same emotionally. “People could focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination,” said one researcher. Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, happy and sad music affects how we interpret neutral faces, according to a recent study.

Of course, it’s usually pretty simple to tell if the music is happy or sad, but there is more to it. Our brains actually respond differently to the happy and sad music, making the process much more subjective. It doesn’t matter how short or long the piece of music is. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad to match the tone of the music they heard. This also occurred with other facial expressions, but it happened most often with those that were more neutral.

In addition to affecting our interpretations of other people’s expressions, music–specifically ambient noise–can improve creativity. Some people love loud music in the background while they organize their days, deciding what to do and when. However, loud music may not be the best music to listen to while you’re attempting to think. Actually, for creative endeavors such as writing or painting, moderate noise is best. Actually, even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently enhances creativity and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do. This is because moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty, which in turn promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In short, the harder we work to process things, the more creative our approaches become. However, this only applies to moderate noise levels. This is because loud noise overwhelms us and makes it too difficult to approach anything creatively–or at all.

To boost creativity, aim for a moderate noise level, and to boost your mood, look for an upbeat song to lift your spirits.

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How Echoes Operate

If you’ve ever been inside a large canyon, you’ve probably observed the wonder of echoes firsthand-but how do they work? An echo is a phenomenon we experience often. When you shout into a well or a canyon, the echo returns to you a moment later. An echo happens when a sound wave reflects off a surface, such as the water at the bottom of a well, and the sound is repeated back to you. For a place to be able to produce echoes, it must have certain features. For one, the size of the obstacle/reflector must be large compared to the wavelength of the incident sound (for reflection of sound to take place). For another, the distance between the source of sound and the reflector should be at least 66 feet (so that the echo is heard distinctly after the original sound is over). Lastly, the intensity or loudness of the sound has to be sufficient for the reflected sound reaching the ear to be audible. The original sound should be of short duration.

The length of time between the moment you shout and the moment that you hear the echo is determined by the distance between you and the surface that creates the echo. Not only do echoes tell how far away an object is, it can also show you how fast the object is moving and even its shape. This is called echolocation, and bats use it to find moths at night. A bat uses echolocation by sending out a clicking or chirping sound, which echoes off any objects that are near. Luckily for bats, they have very large ears and can sense even very soft sounds in certain wavelengths. In addition, their brains process echoes in a way that helps them know how far away an object is as well as how big it is and where and how fast it is moving. With the bat’s talents and attributes, echolocation is simple, leading the bat directly to its meal.

Bats aren’t the only mammal that uses echolocation–dolphins do as well. With what are called “phonic lips,” a dolphin makes clicking sounds. Humans, like nearly all mammals, produce sounds using their vocal cords. The dolphin doesn’t have vocal cords, but instead developed its phonic lips from what was once the dolphin’s nose. By sending pressurized air past these lip-like structures, the air vibrates and click sounds are produced. The echolocation process–sending out clicks and listening to the click echoes– is what produces a kind of mental image of the object that a dolphin is investigating with clicks.

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Listening and Communication Enhancement Program

“I hear and speak so much more clearly now,
and I don’t have to ask people to repeat themselves”

lace

Whether you wear hearing instruments, are just acquiring devices, or simply wish to improve your listening skills, LACE – Listening and Communication Enhancement — training will help you get the most out of the sounds of life. Because it is a computerized, internet-based program, we can track your results and discuss them with you.

Hearing vs. Listening
Did you know that we don’t really hear with our ears? Ears do the listening, but we hear with our brain. Hearing instruments can help a person detect softer sounds, but they don’t necessarily provide good listening skills.

Even people with normal hearing can be poor listeners. Good listening skills are one of the essential components in effective communication. These abilities can be damaged both by hearing loss and by the natural aging process. LACE is designed to enhance the ability to communicate by training the brain to best utilize these skills.

Muscle Memory Training for Your Hearing
LACE is an acronym for Listening and Communication Enhancement. Conceived by leading hearing care specialists at the University of California at San Francisco, LACE is an interactive computerized training program that helps improve your ear-to-brain muscle memory.

lace

LACE focuses on the five challenges of listening:

  • Speech in background noise (like restaurants or parties)
  • Rapid speech (when people are speaking quickly)
  • Competing speaker (two people are speaking and the “noise” is other people near them speaking)
  • Missing word (If you miss a word in a conversation, can you still understand the message?)
  • Auditory working memory (If you miss a piece of the conversation, how long does it take you to accurately understand what was said?)

LACE has already helped thousands of people who live with some degree of hearing loss increase their listening skills by up to 45%. Just as physical therapy can help rebuild physical strength and compensate for weakness, LACE can assist in developing listening, communication, and interaction skills.

Ask our staff about purchasing this program to improve your listening skills today!

Dr. Sweetow Discusses LACE: Patient Testimonial: NBC News Report:

We want to help you improve your listening skills
and be part of the conversation again

Call Hear For Life Hearing Aid Centers today
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How You Hear

Discover how to
clear the way for better hearing

Click here to view a 3-D video tour of the ear

Hearing begins when sound waves enter the outer ear (the visible portion of the ear located on the outside of the head) and are channeled down the auditory canal, a tube-like passageway lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce ear wax.

At the end of the auditory canal lies the middle ear which is composed of the eardrum and three small bones, known by the layman as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. When sound waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates and, in turn, moves the hammer. The hammer moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear functions to amplify sound, which is why significant hearing loss can result from any disruption in any of its parts.

The inner ear consists of the cochlea and the nerve of hearing. It converts sound waves into nerve impulses that travel to the brain via the movement of tiny hair cells. It is the brain that allows you to hear…as long as the message it is receiving is not distorted due to problems in the process just described.

Want to learn more?

Click here to learn about the types and causes of hearing loss.
Click here to learn what happens during a hearing test appointment.
Click here to learn about digital hearing instruments.

Knowledge is power…the power to hear better

Call Hear For Life Hearing Aid Centers do
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How the Balance System Works

Movement of fluid in the semicircular canals signals the brain about the direction and speed of head rotation. In other words it lets the brain know if you are nodding your head up and down or looking right to left. Each semicircular canal has a bulbous end that contains hair cells. Rotation of the head causes a flow of fluid, which in turn causes displacement of the top portion of the hair cells that are embedded in the jelly-like cupula.

Two other organs that are part of the vestibular system are the utricle and saccule. These are called the otolithic organs and are responsible for detecting linear acceleration, or movement in a straight line. The hair cells of the otolithic organs are blanketed with a jelly-like layer studded with tiny calcium stones called otoconia. When the head is tilted or the body position is changed with respect to gravity, the displacement of the stones causes the hair cells to bend.

Diagram explaining how hairs in the ear work.
Illustration B

The balance system works with the visual and skeletal systems (the muscles and joints and their sensors) to maintain orientation or balance. For example, visual signals are sent to the brain about the body’s position in relation to its surroundings. These signals are processed by the brain, and compared to information from the vestibular and the skeletal systems. An example of interaction between the visual and vestibular systems is called the vestibular-ocular reflex. The nystagmus (an involuntary rhythmic eye movement) that occurs when a person is spun around and then suddenly stops is an example of a vestibular-ocular reflex.

This figure shows nerve activity associated with rotational-induced physiologic nystagmus and spontaneous nystagmus resulting from a lesion of one labyrinth.
Illustration C

This figure shows nerve activity associated with rotational-induced physiologic nystagmus and spontaneous nystagmus resulting from a lesion of one labyrinth. Thin straight arrows–direction of slow components; thick straight arrows–direction of fast components; curved arrows–direction of endolymph flow in the horizontal semicircular canals: AC–anterior canal, PC–posterior canal, HC–horizontal canal.

The more you know, the less you’ll suffer

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