Male musician arranging music on a keyboard

Being a professional musician is a dream job for people all over the world. Unfortunately, those who work in this profession tend to be exposed to dangerous levels of sound, putting their hearing in danger. In the United States, around 22 million workers, including musicians, are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work every year. Statistically speaking, musicians are almost four times more likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss than the general public. They are also almost 60% more likely to develop tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Musicians and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Professional musicians typically spend hours a day practicing or playing shows, which exposes their ears to dangerous levels of noise. This can cause damage to the tiny hairs in the inner ear. It's not just the intensity of the sound that matters but also the duration of exposure. As such, musicians who have been playing for years are at a high risk of hearing damage than others. 

Stress for Musicians with Hearing Issues

Regular hearing tests are essential to ensure optimal hearing ability. Untreated hearing loss can have severe emotional, mental, and physical effects on individuals, especially if the issue is left unaddressed for years. This is especially true for musicians who may have their playing ability limited by their hearing loss. 

Studies have shown that classical musicians are 7 times more likely to experience tinnitus than the general population. One study found that as much as 43% of classical musicians suffer from hyperacusis, a heightened sensitivity to noise. The same study also found that 83% of musicians with hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis experienced work-related stress. 

What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing

As a working musician, it's crucial to understand the added risk to your hearing and take early steps to protect it. While regular earplugs may muffle speech and music by limiting high-range frequencies, musicians’ earplugs gradually target all ranges while maintaining sound quality.

Musicians’ earplugs can reduce decibel levels to safe levels while still enabling you to hear your instrument and the music of those you're playing with. These earplugs can help you hear notes better without straining or injuring your ears. Our Doctors of Audiology can recommend custom musician's earplugs or in-ear monitors to protect your hearing without compromising your musical performance or experience.

Listening to Music With Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can make it challenging for individuals to follow and participate in conversations. For professional musicians, hearing loss can also limit musical conversation, causing music to sound muffled and quieter, taking away the brightness and excitement from the sound. Some tones in singing can become difficult to hear, and the delicate balance of instruments can become distorted, affecting a musician's ability to play with others. For professional musicians dealing with noise-induced hearing loss, listening to music, let alone playing music with others, can be very challenging.

Hearing Aids and Music

The latest hearing aids come with features that are designed not only to improve speech perception but also to enhance music listening experience. These features are designed to focus on specific tones that need to be increased to hear music better.

What is the Takeaway?

Hearing loss is a serious issue for musicians and should be taken seriously. Those planning to play music for the rest of their lives should take every precaution when practicing, playing shows, listening to music, or attending concerts. Hearing health should be taken as seriously as any other aspect of one’s general health. 

The team at Texas ENT specialists is well versed in all of the latest methods of diagnosing and treating hearing issues. Our ENT doctors perform an extensive assessment of the patient’s issues before making any recommendations on treatment. Contact us today to learn more about how your hearing issues can be treated. 


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