Hear What You've Been Missing!

How Can Musicians Prevent Tinnitus?

a woman experiencing slight ear discomfort

Musicians are regularly around loud sounds due to the nature of their work. This type of environment puts them at a high risk of hearing loss and developing tinnitus. To prevent damaging their ears, musicians can learn how these conditions happen and ways to protect their hearing.

Defining tinnitus

A person with tinnitus hears a continual noise in their ears that often makes it difficult to concentrate. Exactly what it sounds like varies between people; while one person might hear ringing in their ears, another person hears buzzing, hissing, or another noise.

Extended exposure to noise can put a person at risk of sensorineural hearing loss. This happens when damage occurs to the sound-sensing hair cells in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss can occur in one ear or both, and it can lead to tinnitus.

Linking musicians and tinnitus

Musicians are more at risk of this type of hearing loss and subsequent tinnitus because they are continually around instruments and stereos. The loud noises that emit from both of those sources wear down the delicate hair cells in the cochlea, which can significantly damage a person’s hearing.

Here is a way to quickly put the risk into perspective. Exposure to any noise that is 85 decibels or higher is unsafe without ear protection, and live rock bands often play at 112 decibels. At this high level, damage can occur to an ear listening to it for more than a minute.

The risk of hearing loss and tinnitus does not only apply to rock musicians, either. It can happen to any musician, including orchestra members.

Furthermore, those who are in the audience at loud concerts are also at risk of having tinnitus. The same applies to those who work at or attend pubs and nightclubs that play music at a high decibel level.

Tinnitus prevention strategies for musicians

The consensus among audiologists is that using hearing protection devices is key to lowering the risks of hearing loss tinnitus. For example, consider wearing earplugs while performing, whether on stage or not, as well as in other loud environments, including sports events.

Musician earplugs are specifically made for performers playing a range of instruments and come in a variety of materials. These earplugs allow the person wearing them to still hear the music they are performing clearly but at a lower level for the safety of their ears.

There are universal-fit and custom-fit types of musician earplugs. An audiologist can fit the musician or anyone else for the custom ones to provide optimal hearing protection. As they are fit specifically to the shape and size of the individual’s ears, these earplugs are comfortable to wear for extended periods.

This type of earplug is a good idea for anyone working in the entertainment industry to wear. It is also beneficial for those who regularly attend concerts or festivals.
Musicians can also use a sound level measuring app to determine the volume of sound around them. Anything 85 decibels and higher is considered unsafe.

Also advisable is to rest the ears after a loud event, such as an evening gig at a bar. Having several hours of quiet time after exposure to loud noises can ease the effects of temporary hearing loss. Furthermore, play music at a lower volume when practicing and do the same when listening to songs.

For those who already have tinnitus

While tinnitus is not curable, there are treatments to alleviate the discomfort of the sounds in the ears. The best treatment depends on the cause of the condition.

If the tinnitus stems from sensorineural hearing loss, an audiologist might suggest hearing aids designed to mask the internal sound of tinnitus. Relief can come from this type of hearing aid as the user can now focus on sounds in their environment, without the distracting ringing.

As tinnitus can worsen with stress, it is also important for those who have the condition to practice stress management techniques, such as meditation. Getting plenty of sleep can help combat tinnitus.

Furthermore, get a hearing test regularly from an audiologist, at least once every few years. Hearing loss happens gradually, which means people do not always notice changes right away.

Protecting musicians’ hearing

For musicians, loud environments come with the job territory. It is, therefore, imperative that they wear ear protection and take measures to prevent hearing loss.

An audiologist can fit individuals for musician earplugs, as well as conducting hearing tests to determine if there is hearing loss. The next step is to form a custom tinnitus treatment plan. To find out more, contact Atlantic Audiology by calling 401-942-8080.