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Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

Do you crank up the volume when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s fun. But, here’s the situation: there can also be significant harm done.

In the past we weren’t familiar with the relationship between music and hearing loss. Volume is the biggest issue(both in terms of sound intensity and the number of listening sessions in a day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

It’s a rather famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he composed (except in his head). On one occasion he even had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause from his audience because he couldn’t hear it.

Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all seem amazingly similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. Significant damage including tinnitus and hearing loss will eventually be the result.

Not a Musician? Still a Problem

As a non-rock star (at least when it comes to the profession, we all know you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you may have a hard time relating this to your personal worries. You’re not performing for huge crowds. And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you daily.

But you do have a pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, just about everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are 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 worry.

So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears When Listening to Music?

As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:

  • Use earplugs: When you attend a rock concert (or any type of musical show or event), use hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most harmful of the injury. (And don’t think that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what most of your favorite musicians are doing.).
  • Keep your volume under control: Some modern smartphones will alert you when you’re going beyond healthy limits on volume. You should listen to these warnings if you care about your long-term hearing.
  • Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware 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. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will know it.

Limit Exposure

In many ways, the math here is pretty simple: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more extensive your hearing loss could be later in life. Eric Clapton, as an example, has entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.

Limiting exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be challenging for individuals who work around live music. Part of the solution is wearing hearing protection.

But keeping the volume at reasonable levels is also a good idea.

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