Ear Health Breakdown: Why music lovers should protect their ears
"If you need ear plugs you should stay at home!"
"I love getting to the front so I can be right next to the speaker!"
"Ear plugs? It’s not loud enough!"
To the true music lover, these phrases should make no sense. At loud volumes, music is not only completely distorted, but also causes irreversible hearing damage.
If you call yourself a music fan, overexposure to loud sound is akin to a runner breaking their own legs: Completely self-defeating and pointless.
In Western society, 20 percent of people are affected by some form of hearing damage. This goes up to 30 percent with teenagers and increases even more among music fans. We have invited EarPeace to explain exactly what hearing damage is, and how to prevent it. Trust us... if you follow their advice, your music-loving soul will be forever grateful!
What are the types of hearing damage:
Tinnitus - A sensation of noise (such as a ringing or roaring) that is caused by a bodily condition (usually a disturbance of the auditory nerve or wax in the ear) and typically is of the subjective form. In other words, you will start hearing ringing, hissing and buzzing that no one else can hear. Tinnitus is extremely common among DJs, musicians and regular concert-goers.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss - Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea (this is the sensory hearing organ) or damage to the neural pathways of hearing (nerves). Sensorineural hearing loss essentially means going deaf, commonly caused by overexposure to loud noise.
How does it happen:
Scientists have devised a useful chart that links hearing damage to exposure at different volumes. As you can see, it only takes 30 minutes of exposure at over 100dB for damage to occur. Noise levels at the average show are between 90dB-105dB, with peaks of up to 120dB. All it takes is one bad sound engineer and your hearing will be scarred for life.
Regulations are in place to keep decibel levels down, however, music needs to be louder than the crowd for a show to be worthwhile. Drowning out 50,000 screaming fans in a stadium requires serious decibel levels. It really is up to you as the audience member to take the necessary precautions. If you play American football, you wouldn’t dream of entering the pitch without a helmet... so why leave your precious ears vulnerable when heading out for a night of raving?
How to prevent it:
UK organization AOHL recommends five useful steps to prevent hearing damage which they've cleverly compiled into their own handy "M.U.S.I.C." acronym.
Barring a freak accident, sticking to the advice above will be more than enough to keep your ears safe. Our hearing protection partner EarPeace agrees:
"We run a lot of stalls at festivals. Plenty of people stop by and say they wish we had been around earlier. This kind of advice just wasn’t there back in the day. When you see guys like Brian Johnson (AC DC), Zedd and Lil Louis who have all had damage so serious they either had to quit or came close to it, you realize this is no joke. Hearing damage tends to creep up over time rather than just appear. On top of this, hearing aids are far more expensive than quality hearing protection like ours. The rebel in us loves the idea of never having to wear a seatbelt… but the reality is that when a seatbelt is the only barrier between us and an early musical death, you really have to be a complete dumbass not to wear ear plugs."
So there you have it. If you love music, love your ears. There are no cures for either tinnitus or hearing loss. Imagine a life without music… sounds pretty horrible doesn't it?
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