Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: there can also be appreciable harm done.
The connection between music and hearing loss is closer than we previously understood. That has a lot to do with volume (this is in regards to how many times daily you listen and how extreme the volume is). And it’s one of the reasons that countless of today’s musicians are changing their tune to save their hearing.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a rather famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. On one occasion he even had to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause of his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing problems in musicians. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all famous for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound 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 gradually brings about significant damage: tinnitus and hearing loss.
Even if You Aren’t a Musician This Could Still be an Issue
You might think that because you’re not personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.
But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that’s the problem. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, pretty much everyone can experience life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to damaging and constant sounds make this one time cliche grievance into a considerable cause for worry.
So How Can You Safeguard Your Ears When Listening to Music?
So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). Raising awareness can help some people (particularly younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But you also need to take some other steps too:
- Use ear protection: Put in earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. They won’t really lessen your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from additional damage. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Keep your volume in check: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone might alert you. If you value your long-term hearing, you should listen to these warnings.
- Download a volume-checking 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 measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when harmful levels are reached you will be aware of it.
It’s pretty simple math: you will have more significant hearing loss later in life the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a lot sooner.
The best way to reduce your damage, then, is to lessen your exposure. That can be difficult for individuals who work around live music. Part of the solution is hearing protection.
But we all would be a lot better off if we simply turned down the volume to practical levels.