After advancing age, noise exposure is one of the top reasons people lose their hearing. One population especially at risk of noise-induced hearing loss is musicians – this is true whether you play in a garage, Katy Vibes in Katy or in an arena. In this post, we review how loud sounds cause damage and how you can protect your hearing as a musician.
How Does Loud Sound Cause Hearing Damage?
Inside your inner ear is your cochlea, which is filled with fluid and lined with tiny hair cells called stereocilia. As soundwaves pass through your ears, they move the fluid, which in turn moves the hair cells. The stereocilia convert this vibration into electrical energy that travels to the brain to be interpreted as sound. This is how you hear.
If a dangerously loud sound passes through the ear, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Once they’re damaged, they do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Can I Protect My Hearing Against Noise?
Fortunately, there are several types of hearing protection available to help protect your hearing as a musician.
- Disposable earplugs. Disposable earplugs found at the drugstore are available in a variety of shapes and materials. For example, you can get foam, plastic or putty. The problem with disposable earplugs is they tend to muffle higher-frequency sounds, which could be a problem for musicians.
- Earmuffs, found at big box stores and online, sit over the ear rather than in the ear canal, and they work by blocking noise from entering the ear. Though a popular option for children, earmuffs still provide benefits to adults.
- Musician’s earplugs. Though a little pricier, musician’s earplugs, found in musician’s shops and online, have a special filter that evenly lowers all frequencies, so music quality sounds the same, just not as loud.
- Custom-fit earplugs. Custom-fit earplugs, molded in an audiologist’s office, are made from silicone and come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. They preserve music quality while reducing the volume.
- Custom-fit in-ear monitors. Custom-fit in-ear monitors are more sophisticated devices that are usually used by professionals. They’re made of acrylic and also molded to the shape of your ear by an audiologist. These plug into a receiver so that they receive music directly from an instrument rather than allowing all sounds through.
To learn more about hearing protection for musicians or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call Today's Hearing today.