What You Need To Know About Hearing Loss- Part 1

Warning- The Following Information May Change Your Life!

We spend a great amount of money on equipment which we feel is necessary to become fine musicians and there is little doubt that good equipment can help us reach that goal. But how much concern do we have for preserving an essential element which we already possess?  And that essential element would be our hearing. As performers, we are expected to have what they call in the recording industry, “big ears”. This term has nothing to do with the size or shape of our ears. It has to do with how much we can hear and understand. Too often we neglect the importance of the preservation of our hearing. Just as an artist requires the use of his/her sight, musicians must rely on their hearing to become better performers and that is why I wanted to address this often neglected area of our art. If you are now about to stop reading for you have been told all of this before, please don’t stop reading. I will be repeating many of the same things that you have been told before by friends and family but try to block out what they have said. The chances are very good that you heard but did not obey and for that reason I want you to read everything in this post as if it were the first time you have been told. Trust me; this may actually change your life.

Good hearing is not only important to musicians, it is important to everyone. As I get older, I am thankful that my parents insisted that I protect my hearing. I admit that their encouragements were not always followed, but now at my mature age, I still have good hearing and when I visit with my friends both musicians and non musicians, I am thankful that hearing loss is not one of my many signs of aging.

*Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • Muffled quality of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:

  • Aging. Exposure to sounds over the years can damage the cells of your inner ear.
  • Heredity. Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage.
  • Occupational noises. Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, can lead to damage inside your ear.
  • Recreational noises. Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and fireworks, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music. Personal music players such as MP3 players can cause lasting hearing loss if you turn the volume up high enough to mask the sound of other loud noises, such as a lawn mower.
  • Some medications. Drugs such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss — can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
  • Some illnesses. Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

Sound levels of common noises Decibels Noise source Safe range 30 Whisper 60 Normal conversation 70 Washing machine   Risk range 85 to 90 Heavy city traffic, power lawn mower, hair dryer 95 Motorcycle 100 Snowmobile, hand drill 110 Chain saw, rock concert   Injury range 120 Ambulance siren 140 (pain threshold) Jet engine at takeoff 165 12-guage shotgun blast 180 Rocket launch

Maximum sound-exposure durations
Below are the maximum noise levels on the job to which you should be exposed without hearing protection, and for how long.

Maximum job-noise exposure allowed by law
Sound level, decibels Duration, daily
90 8 hours
92 6 hours
95 4 hours
97 3 hours
100 2 hours
102 1.5 hours
105 1 hour
110 30 minutes
115 15 minutes or less

Hearing loss prevention consists of steps you can take to help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss and avoid worsening of age-related hearing loss:

  • Protect your ears in the workplace. Specially designed earmuffs that resemble earphones can protect your ears by bringing most loud sounds down to an acceptable level. Foam, pre-formed, or custom-molded earplugs made of plastic or rubber also can effectively protect your ears from damaging noise.
  • Have your hearing tested. Consider regular hearing tests if you work in a noisy environment. Regular testing of your ears can provide early detection of hearing loss. Knowing you’ve lost some hearing means you’re in a position to take steps to prevent further hearing loss.
  • Avoid recreational risks. Activities such as riding a snowmobile, hunting and listening to extremely loud music for long periods of time can damage your ears. Wearing hearing protectors or taking breaks from the noise during loud recreational activities can protect your ears. Turning down the volume when listening to music can help you avoid damage to your hearing.

Part 1 of this post addresses the essential facts related to hearing loss and in Part 2 of this subject, I will be sharing information on how we as musicians can protect what we have so that our musical history does not parallel that of the great composer, Ludwig von Beethoven.

*All the technical information listed above was taken from the following web site-
Hearing Loss

Please remember-

“You can not reverse hearing loss”.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

2 thoughts on “What You Need To Know About Hearing Loss- Part 1

  1. Jon

    Great article, Bruce! Now, if only all nightclub owners and DJ’s would read it!

    • Bruce Chidester

      And a very warm welcome to you this fine morning.
      Your comment was well put and if I could post it in Braille, they might be able to read it.
      Have a great day and for those of you that are not familiar with our guest, I suggest you visit Jon’s wonderful site at http://brassmusician.com/

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