The second most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss, after advanced age, is noise exposure. Those most at risk include those with noisy jobs or hobbies, such as musicians. Whether you play music in a garage, The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, or in an arena, it’s important you take measures to protect yourself against noise-induced hearing loss.
How Loud Sound Causes Damage
Inside your inner ear is the cochlea, which is lined with tiny hair cells and filled with fluid. As sound impulses travel through the ear, it moves the fluid, which in turn stimulates the hair cells. The cells convert these impulses into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can cause damage to or even destroy the hair cells. Once they’re damaged, they do not regenerate, and the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Musicians Can Protect Their Hearing
Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to hearing protection for musicians.
Some options for protecting your hearing that you can find over-the-counter include:
- These are available in a variety of shapes and materials, including foam, plastic or putty. The problem with these is they muffle higher-frequency sounds, which can distort music. They can be found in drugstores.
- These sit over the ear rather than in the ear canal, and they work by blocking noise from entering the ear. This is the most popular option for children, but it can still benefit adults who maybe don’t like the feel of earplugs. These can be found in big box stores like sporting goods stores.
- Though a little pricier than the other options, musician’s earplugs are built with a special filter that evenly lowers all frequencies, so music quality remains the same, just at a lower volume. These can be found in music shops and online.
Some options for protecting your hearing that can be custom-fit to your ears include:
- These are made from silicone and come in a variety of shapes and colors. You need to visit an audiologist to get impressions of your ears taken to ensure a custom fit.
- These are more sophisticated devices and are usually used by professionals. They’re made of acrylic and also molded to the shape of your ear by an audiologist. In-ear monitors plug into a receiver so that they receive music directly from an instrument rather than allowing all sounds through.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call The House Institute Hearing Health Centers today.