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Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? You aren’t alone. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But there’s one thing you should know: there can also be considerable harm done.

In the past we weren’t familiar with the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest concern(this is based on how many times per day 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 protect their hearing.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

It’s a rather well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He could only hear his compositions internally. There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around at the end of the performance because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the audience.

Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. In more recent times many musicians who are widely recognized for playing at very loud volumes are coming forward with their stories of hearing loss.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Musicians spend a huge amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience every day eventually leads to significant damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.

Not a Musician? Still a Problem

As a non-rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a hard time relating this to your own worries. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you’re not standing near a wall of amplifiers.

But your favorite playlist and a set of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a real problem. It’s become effortless for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, way too loud.

The ease with which you can subject yourself to damaging and continuous sounds make this once cliche grievance into a substantial cause for concern.

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

So, first we need to admit there’s a problem (that’s usually the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). Raising awareness will help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in danger. But you also should take some other steps too:

  • Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a rock concert. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be measured with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This will help you monitor what’s dangerous and isn’t.
  • Keep your volume in check: Many modern smartphones will alert you when you’re going beyond healthy limits on volume. You should listen to these safety measures if you value your long-term hearing.
  • Wear ear protection: When you attend a rock concert (or any sort of musical show or event), wear earplugs. They won’t really lessen your experience. But your ears will be safeguarded from further damage. (By the way, wearing earplugs is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).

Limit Exposure

It’s rather straight forward math: you will have more significant hearing loss later on the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. He probably wishes he begun wearing earplugs a little bit sooner.

Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. That can be tricky for people who work at a concert venue. Ear protection may provide part of an answer there.

But we all would be a little better off if we simply turned the volume down to sensible levels.

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