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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Understanding How Ringing-in-the-Ears is Different in Children

Tinnitus is a common affliction among older people, however tinnitus doesn’t discriminate by age. Many kids also experience the symptoms of tinnitus. Unlike adults, who can usually figure out that the noises they keep hearing are outside of the norm, kids are more likely to assume that everyone hears these sounds. If your child shows signs of tinnitus it is important to look into it to rule out any underlying condition.

Tinnitus is caused by a number of different conditions in both adults and children. Among the many potential causes are circulatory problems, hearing loss from damaging noise, a build-up of wax in the ear canal, a misalignment in the jaw joints, and trauma to the neck and head. Slow-growing tumors on nerves in the face and ears can also cause tinnitus. Your family pediatrician can help rule out any specific ear problems. If there are not any obvious issues, you will likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or hearing instrument specialist for further investigation.

Should your child’s specialist find a specific issue that is causing the tinnitus, there is a good chance that the problem can be addressed and the condition eliminated. Unfortunately, many incidences of tinnitus are not associated with a specific issue. If there is no clear cause, addressing the problem can be difficult, making it more constructive for you to focus on helping your child cope.

Your child may find that his or her tinnitus makes concentration difficult. One way to combat this is to provide background noise. Run a fan or soft music in the background while your child is at home. If your child is suffering from hearing loss alongside tinnitus, a hearing aid can help her focus on important sounds and filter out distractions.

Tinnitus can cause some children to experience psychological distress. In this case it is important to be supportive and reassuring about the condition. Make sure your child understands that tinnitus is a common problem that affects many other children. Ask your hearing instrument specialist about how you can explain tinnitus to your child in a way that makes sense to them.Some children find that their tinnitus gets worse when they are under stress, so work with your child to find ways to manage stressful situations.

Finally, reassure your child (and yourself) that most children outgrow tinnitus naturally. While it may be a nuisance now, with time your child can overcome it.

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