Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

Do you turn up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Many people do that. When you pump up your music, you can feel it in your gut. And it’s something you can truly enjoy. But there’s one thing you should understand: it can also cause some appreciable damage.

In the past we weren’t informed about the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(both when it comes to 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 pretty well-known irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He was only able to hear his compositions in his head. On one occasion he even had to be turned around so he could see the thunderous applause from his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.

Beethoven might be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. In more recent times lots of musicians who are widely recognized for playing at extremely 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 amazingly similar. Being a musician means spending almost every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and booming crowds. Noticeable damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will eventually be the result.

Even if You’re Not a Musician This Could Still be an Issue

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

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

This one little thing can now become a serious issue.

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

As with most scenarios admitting that there’s an issue is the first step. Raising awareness will help some people (especially younger, more impressionable people) become aware that they’re putting their hearing in jeopardy. But there are other (further) steps you can also take:

  • Wear ear protection: When you go to a rock concert (or any kind of musical show or event), wear hearing protection. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear protection. But your ears will be protected from additional damage. (Incidentally, wearing earplugs is what the majority of your favorite musicians are currently doing to safeguard their hearing, so even the cool kids are doing it).
  • Get a volume-monitoring app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a rock concert. It can be useful to get one of a few free apps that will give you a volume measurement of the space you’re in. As a result, when hazardous levels are reached you will know it.
  • Manage your volume: If you exceed a safe listening level, your smartphone may let you know. You should listen to these safety measures if you care about your long-term hearing.

Limit Exposure

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

The best way to limit your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. That can be difficult for individuals who work at a concert venue. Ear protection might provide part of a solution there.

But all of us would be a lot better off if we just turned down the volume to practical levels.

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