Music-Induced Hearing Loss

by | Feb 28, 2023 | News

The world-renowned jazz musician and trumpeter Louis Armstrong said, “Music is life,” and as many listeners or musicians might also say, “You can’t get enough of a good thing.” Unfortunately, too much of this particular good thing could turn out to be “too much” when heard at too loud of a volume. The amount of time spent listening and the volume level can lead to permanent hearing damage.

Both Music Listeners and Performers Are at Risk

As noted by the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine, music-induced hearing loss, which is also referred to as MIHL, can reflect a concern for individuals who either listen to musical recordings in headphones or attend high-volume concerts. The volume level of a sound and the length of time exposed to it will determine its potential to cause harm.

According to the World Health Organization, you can safely enjoy musical recordings through headphones or earbuds at an average volume of 80 decibels for 40 hours per week provided that you are not also exposed to other sources of high-volume sound. If, for example, you also work in a noisy machine shop or commute on a subway in addition to listening to music at higher volumes, the cumulative effect can endanger your hearing.

There is also a “stealth factor” involved in hearing loss; the damage can occur gradually and there may be no pain to warn you of the harm that’s taking place. Musicians are particularly prone to MIHL due to the amount of time spent rehearsing and performing. A majority of musicians involved in research studies have noted they experienced a temporary loss of hearing after a concert performance.

Although many occupations require working in high sound-level environments, workers often wear ear protection. It’s unlikely, however, that music played on personal audio devices will involve ear protection. Musicians are also not likely to use ear protection when performing or rehearsing.

Take Steps To Avoid Hearing Loss

A preferred listening volume is both personal and highly subjective. An audiological evaluation, however, reflects a more accurate assessment of how safe your audio volume is and how long you can listen without harm. If your lifestyle, work environment or listening preferences pose a risk of hearing loss, an audiologist can provide advice on how you can lessen the chances of permanent harm.

Checking the volume level when you’re listening to music will enable you to stay within the safety range and avoid hearing damage. There’s a wide range of iOS and Android apps that can measure sound levels in decibels. You can use your smartphone to see if the volume level at a club or concert exceeds your “safety zone,” and if it does, you’ll know it’s time to pop in some sound-protection earplugs.

Take Advantage of No-Fee Audiological Screening and Enjoy Music Safely

HEAR Center is a non-profit organization that serves individuals of all ages who have hearing issues or concerns regarding their auditory health. We offer no-fee audiological screenings and provide guidance and education on how to protect and improve your hearing. There’s no need to remove music from your life or reduce the amount of time spent listening or performing. Contact us to learn more about how you can protect your hearing while you also enjoy the best of what life can offer.

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