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Musicians and Hearing Loss – Risks and Protection

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Ear-and-Sound-Waves

There are several types of noise:

  • Having a duration of action of milliseconds
  • Having a duration of action of seconds
  • Mixed

The action of noise on the organ of hearing depends on the type of the noise, on its duration of action and on its intensity. Due to its anatomy, the human ear can auto-protect itself from intensities of up to 80-85dB, but beyond this limit, the noise can cause hearing lesions leading to temporary or permanent deafness.

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Acute acoustic traumas – are caused by being exposed to impulsive sounds of high intensities, up to 150dB, for a few seconds; these types of noises can be found in nightclubs (100-110dB), rock concerts (120-130dB), walkmans (90-110dB), plain engines or motorcycle exhaust sounds (100dB).

Chronic acoustic traumas – are caused by being exposed to repeated, daily sounds of intensities of 80-85dB, for 6-8h/per days, for several years. These types of acoustic traumas are found in miners, workers on building sites, in plants, in airports, radio operators, military personnel, musicians in orchestras or rock bands.

The symptom – it can vary from a slight discomfort to severe pain, depending on the causative factor. It can be accompanied by pain, the sensation of a clogged ear, whizzing or other noises in the ear and sometimes dizziness and balance disorders.

In the case of professional exposure to noise, the hearing loss is progressive and it can be felt as a difficulty of perceiving speech in loud spaces or, often, as ear whizzing.

The diagnosis – is based on a clinical ENT examination, on radiology examinations or acoustic and vestibular tests.

In the case of professional deafness, the treatment is the auditory prosthesis, change of profession or using protective headphones.

If the treatment is rapidly applied and the hearing is protected by the usage of antiphonic earplugs, complete recovery is attained in 75% up to 100% of cases.

In the case of acute acoustic traumas, the hearing loss can progress to a permanent loss of hearing.

In acoustic traumas due to professional exposure to noise, and here we are talking about musicians, the hearing loss no longer progresses if the noise exposure is stopped.

Famous musicians who lost their hearing: Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Chris Martin, Franki Valli (Four Seasons), Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Pete Townshend (Who’s guitarist)

Advice:

  • Always wear protective headphones if you go to the rehearsal room often.
  • Do not rehearse using the maximum level of the amplifier unless it is necessary.
  • Do not stay in front rows or near the speakers when you go to concerts.
  • Do not listen to loud music with your headphones, the best thing to do would be using extra auricular headphones.
  • Go see a doctor if your ear has clogged inexplicably and it doesn’t get better in 24h!
Musicians and Hearing Loss – Risks and Protection
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