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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? Lots of people do that. When you pump up the music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s fun. But there’s one thing you should know: it can also cause some considerable damage.

In the past we weren’t aware of the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest problem(this is in regards to how many times a day you listen and how intense 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 pretty 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 to see the thunderous applause from 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 certainly isn’t the last. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for cranking their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their personal hearing loss experiences.

From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound remarkably similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time coping with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis eventually brings about significant damage: hearing loss and tinnitus.

Not a Musician? Still an Issue

Being someone who isn’t a rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you might have a difficult time connecting this to your own concerns. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.

But you do have a set of earbuds and your chosen playlist. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the advanced features of earbuds, pretty much everyone can experience life like a musician, inundated by sound and music at way too high a volume.

This one little thing can now become a serious issue.

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

So, the first step is that we 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 danger and need to be made aware of it (particularly more impressionable, younger people). But there are other (further) steps you can take too:

  • Wear earplugs: When you attend a rock concert (or any sort of musical show or event), wear hearing protection. They won’t really lessen your experience. But they will safeguard your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (Incidentally, wearing earplugs is what most of your favorite musicians are currently doing to protect their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
  • Keep your volume under control: Many modern smartphones will let you know when you’re going beyond healthy limits on volume. If you value your long-term hearing, you should adhere to these warnings.
  • Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably not aware of the actual volume of a live concert. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This can help you keep track of what’s dangerous and what’s not.

Limit Exposure

It’s pretty straight forward math: the more often you put your ears at risk, the more substantial your hearing loss later in life could be. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have begun protecting his hearing sooner.

Reducing exposure, then, is the best way to reduce damage. For musicians (and for people who happen to work at music venues), that can be tricky. Ear protection could offer part of a solution there.

But keeping the volume at sensible levels is also a smart idea.

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