Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

Do you turn the volume up when your favorite song comes on the radio? Many people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the jam. And it’s something you can truly take pleasure in. But there’s one thing you should recognize: there can also be significant damage done.

In the past we weren’t familiar with the relationship between hearing loss and music. Volume is the biggest issue(this is in regards to how many times daily you listen and how extreme the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach dealing with the volume of their music.

Hearing Loss And Musicians

It’s a rather well-known irony that, later in life, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he created (except in his head). There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and had to be turned around when his performance was finished because he couldn’t hear the thundering applause of the crowd.

Beethoven might be the first and most famous example of the deaf musician, but he surely isn’t the last. In fact, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.

From Neil Diamond to Eric Clapton to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Musicians spend a large amount of time dealing with crowd noise and loud speakers. The trauma that the ears experience on a daily basis gradually brings about noticeable harm: 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, everyone knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a difficult time connecting this to your personal worries. You’re not performing for huge crowds. And you’re not standing in front of a wall of amplifiers.

But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And that can be a real concern. Thanks to the contemporary features of earbuds, pretty much everyone can enjoy life like a musician, inundated by sound and music at way too high a volume.

This one little thing can now become a real issue.

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

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

  • Download a volume-checking app: You might not comprehend just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. It can be beneficial to download one of several free apps that will give you a volume measurement of your environment. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will know 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.
  • Use ear protection: Put in earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music show. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear protection. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the injury. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).

Limit Exposure

It’s rather simple 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 entirely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have started protecting his hearing sooner.

The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to reduce your exposure. For musicians (and for people who happen to work at music venues), that can be challenging. Part of the strategy is wearing hearing protection.

But everybody would be a lot better off if we simply turned the volume down to reasonable levels.

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