Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

When your favorite song comes on the radio, do you find yourself turning the volume up? Many people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: it can also cause some appreciable harm.

In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between music and hearing loss. Volume is the biggest concern(both when it comes to sound level and the number of listening sessions each day). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

It’s a fairly famous irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the pieces he created (except in his head). On one occasion he even needed to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause of his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.

Beethoven may be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In more recent times quite a few musicians who are well known for playing at very loud volumes are coming forth with their stories of hearing loss.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending just about every day stuck between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis eventually brings about significant harm: tinnitus and hearing loss.

Not a Musician? Still an Issue

Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a difficult time relating this to your personal worries. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.

But you do have a couple of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the modern capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music at way too high a volume.

The ease with which you can expose yourself to harmful and continuous sounds make this once cliche grievance into a considerable cause for alarm.

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

So, first we need to admit there’s an issue (that’s usually the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also need to take some other steps too:

  • Wear earplugs: Use earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music event. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most severe of the injury. (Incidentally, wearing ear protection is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
  • Download a volume-checking app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a live concert. It can be helpful to get one of a few free apps that will provide you with a volume measurement of the space you’re in. This will help you keep track of what’s dangerous and isn’t.
  • Keep your volume in check: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re exceeding safe limits on volume. You should listen to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.

Limit Exposure

It’s fairly straight forward math: you will have more serious hearing loss later on the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for example, has entirely lost his hearing. He likely wishes he begun wearing earplugs a lot sooner.

Decreasing exposure, then, is the best way to limit damage. That can be challenging for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the strategy is wearing ear protection.

But turning the volume down to reasonable levels is also a smart idea.

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