Prolonged exposure to loud noise has the potential to damage your hearing – if you don’t use protection. When you’re exposed to noises of 85 decibels or more, you could be putting your ears at risk.
And considering that the average concert is 97 decibels (and rock concerts average 104 decibels), if you play live music, you’re likely to be running the risk of hearing damage if you don’t use musician earplugs. But it’s not just something to think about when you’re playing live – practising music can be loud too.
Musicians of all levels should use hearing protection to reduce the overall volume and intensity of noise. As well as hearing loss, prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause tinnitus – an infuriating ringing or buzzing sound in the ears.
You might have experienced it after leaving a noisy gig, but it’s gone away after a few hours. If you’re repeatedly exposed to loud noises though, tinnitus can end up being a permanent condition. And once you have permanent tinnitus, it doesn’t go away – not ideal when you’re a musician and need to be able to focus on the music.
Exposure to loud noise can also lead to hyperacusis, a condition that causes extreme sensitivity to sound. It can make normal sounds seem uncomfortably loud and painful – again, something you don’t want to be dealing with as a musician.
Although there are various causes of both tinnitus and hyperacusis, one of the most common is exposure to loud noises. Protecting your ears from this type of noise, then, is the best way to prevent both of these conditions.