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Musician protecting his hearing from hearing loss.

When your favorite tune comes on the radio, do you find yourself cranking the volume up? You aren’t on your own. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s enjoyable. But, here’s the thing: it can also result in some significant damage.

The connection between hearing loss and music is closer than we once thought. Volume is the biggest problem(this is based on how many times daily you listen and how excessive the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.

Musicians And Hearing Loss

It’s a rather famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the pieces he created (except in his head). There’s even one story about how the composer was conducting one of his symphonies and needed to be turned around at the end of the performance because he was unable to hear the thundering applause of the audience.

Beethoven may be the first and most well-known example of the deaf musician, but he certainly isn’t the last. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–have begun to go public with their own hearing loss experiences.

From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all sound amazingly similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and roaring crowds. Noticeable damage including hearing loss and tinnitus will ultimately be the result.

Not a Musician? Still an Issue

You may think that because you aren’t personally a rock star or a musician, this might not apply to you. You don’t have millions of adoring fans screaming at you (usually). And you don’t have massive amplifiers behind you every day.

But your favorite playlist and a pair of earbuds are things you do have. And there’s the problem. Thanks to the advanced capabilities of earbuds, nearly everyone can enjoy life like a musician, flooded by sound and music that are way too loud.

This one little thing can now become a substantial problem.

So How Can You Safeguard Your Hearing While Listening to Music?

So, the first step is that we admit there’s an issue (that’s kind of always the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in danger and need to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:

  • Control your volume: If you exceed a safe volume your smartphone might alert you. You should listen to these warnings if you value your long-term hearing.
  • Use ear protection: Use earplugs when you attend a concert or any other live music event. Your experience won’t be lessened by using ear plugs. But they will protect your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
  • Download a volume-checking app: You are probably unaware of the actual volume of a rock concert. Wherever you are, the volume of your environment can be calculated with one of many free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. This will help you monitor what’s dangerous and what’s not.

Limit Exposure

In a lot of ways, the math here is pretty simple: you will have more severe hearing loss later in life the more often you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, as an example, has completely lost his hearing. If he realized this would happen, he probably would have begun protecting his ears sooner.

The best way to lessen your damage, then, is to limit your exposure. That can be tough for people who work at a concert venue. Part of the strategy is ear protection.

But turning the volume down to reasonable levels is also a smart idea.

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