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How Can Musicians Prevent Tinnitus?

a woman experiencing ear discomfort

For a musician, the importance of hearing is not in question. To be able to create their great works, they need to be able to hear what they are doing – and they will often take influence from listening to the works of others. However, a lifetime of playing music to an audience can take its toll: artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and Ozzy Osbourne are all affected by hearing impairments caused by repeated exposure to high noise levels.

Music is – for many – not so much a career as a vocation and so it is understandable that the prospect of dealing with tinnitus is not something that’s going to stop a lot of young musicians pursuing their dream. However, it makes sense that you’d rather not have to live with tinnitus if there is an alternative way to go – and fortunately, there are things we can do. Knowing what we do about noise and how it affects us, musicians can take the following steps to minimize the chance of tinnitus or hearing loss.

Wear earplugs

It is essential for any musician playing an amplified instrument to wear earplugs. When you bear in mind how loud the music must be for an audience to hear it, consider how loud that is for the person closest to the sound. The reason that so many of the elder statesmen of rock’n’roll have impaired hearing today is quite simple – they have spent years standing next to tall speakers. If you are going to be doing likewise, you can’t do it without earplugs.

This is even the case if you choose to play mostly unplugged music. Instruments, and music venues, are designed for the best possible acoustics and will deliver a loud, reverberating sound. Some earplugs in the present day are designed to react to changes in sound, allowing the musician to hear the music perfectly well when they need to, but protecting their ears from the impact of the noise.

Take regular breaks from the noise

People who like to make music generally also like to listen to it, but a musician who wants to take care of their ears will take the chance to get away from loud sounds. It might not be avoidable when you’re the person making the sound but, when you have the chance, you should always get away from noisy areas. While the intensity of loud noise is one factor in the loss of hearing and a cause of tinnitus, it is also made worse by duration of exposure.

If you’ve just finished playing a set, then find a quiet area off stage to decompress. If you want to listen to music, then do so without earphones and from a safe distance. Also, when you have some time off, try to avoid noisy places altogether and enjoy a sedate, quiet hobby.

Keep a check on your hearing

There are several steps you can take to protect your hearing but, at the end of the day, the occupation comes with a higher incidence of tinnitus and hearing loss than most others so you need to be prepared to take an active role in protection. It is essential to act promptly if you notice that you have to keep edging the sound up while watching TV or have to ask people to repeat what they are saying. If you have just played a loud show, it’s to be expected that you will have some ringing in your ears – but if it continues after the fact, including into the next day, then you may need to take action.

Tinnitus is defined as hearing a noise that is not caused by an outside source. It may or may not be ringing – some people describe having sounds such as hissing or crackling – but if you are experiencing any persistent sound that is not coming from an outer source, prompt action is necessary. Visiting a hearing instrument specialist might well be of benefit to you, as the devices they specialize in can often mask the sounds of tinnitus and give you back a better range of hearing.

If you need to discuss matters connected to hearing loss and tinnitus, then take the chance to speak to the experts by contacting Armand's Hearing Center to arrange an appointment. Their offices can be reached in Bradenton by calling at 941-748-9800, or in Sun City by calling at 3-938-1148. A consultation could be just what you need to get to the bottom of your hearing challenges and overcome them.