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Hearing Protection for Musicians

standard orange and blue ear plugs

It doesn’t matter if you play the guitar, drums, triangle or sing the songs yourself, experiencing hearing loss is something that can affect any musician regardless of whether they play to massive crowds every night or just to their pets in their basement. Today, we’re going to look at everything about hearing protection for musicians to prevent this experience affecting you. 

What causes hearing loss in musicians?

Anybody can experience hearing loss. It is most prominent in people aged 60-69, but musicians are more culpable to experiencing hearing loss at any age compared to your average person. Because of their exposure to loud sounds for extended periods of time, musicians are four times more likely to experience hearing loss than people of the same age who are not musically gifted. 

Exposure to anything louder than 85 decibels is considered dangerous to your hearing, and with the average band playing at 112 decibels or higher, the risk only increases. Long-term exposure to such noise can affect your hearing and bring about early-onset hearing loss in even the healthiest rock stars.  

Symptoms of hearing loss

Experiencing hearing loss is not a sudden thing. You do not wake up one day and realize that you cannot hear as well as you used to. Instead, it is a gradual change, and therein lies the problem. Musicians often do not notice their hearing deteriorating and put it down to leftover ringing from the night before. However, when left too long, this hearing loss can become permanent. 

You must look out for the key symptoms of hearing loss. These include: 

  • Muffled speech or sound
  • Difficulty understanding or distinguishing words, especially over background noise or interference
  • Trouble recognizing consonants
  • Regularly asking people to slow down, speak louder or repeat themselves
  • Turning up the volume on the TV, laptop or radio
  • Withdrawing from conversations because you cannot hear everybody
  • Avoidance of social settings where you know there will be a lot of noise and sound interference

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, even if you don’t think it’s anything to feel concerned about, you must get in touch with a hearing instrument specialist (HIS) immediately to understand the extent of any hearing loss you may be experiencing. 

How musicians can protect their hearing

Even though hearing loss is something that many musicians experience, this does not mean that they need to resign themselves to such hearing loss for the rest of their lives. They can protect themselves from exacerbating hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

Wearing earmuffs or earplugs may not win you any cool points from your adoring fans, but it will ensure your hearing is protected from the most severe noise issues that can complicate your hearing abilities. Search for worksite earmuffs that protect from the loudest decibels, or if you still like to hear a little of what you’re playing, regular earplugs will do the trick. 

Getting your hearing tested regularly

Visiting your HIS regularly and getting your hearing checked is the best way to stay on top of your hearing health even if you use hearing protection. These checkups can give you an idea of any changes you need to make to guarantee better ear health.

Seeking industry advice

The music industry has different standards than other hobbies or occupations that require hearing protection. Seek the advice of other professionals in your industry to determine what some of the best hearing protection options are and any advantages or disadvantages they have noticed with experience. You can also talk to your hearing specialist to learn more about the different types of protection available to you and what they may have recommended to other musicians they’ve worked with. 

Using tuning apps

You don’t need to crank your guitars up to eleven every time, so invest in reliable tuning apps to ensure your levels are well balanced. This prevents each member of your band from trying to out-noise the other and helps everyone keep their hearing in excellent shape. 

If you are a musician who does not currently experience hearing loss, you should still take adequate steps to ensure you do not experience hearing loss either. While it is easy enough to live with mild or even moderate hearing loss because of hearing aids and other instruments, it’s still better to have your hearing intact. 

There’s nothing rock ‘n’ roll about experiencing hearing loss, so if you are a musician looking for more information on protecting your hearing during practice and performances, visit Sound Choice Hearing or call them at 505-341-1300.