Everybody needs to take steps to protect their hearing and prevent hearing loss in later life. However, if you are a musician, your risk of developing hearing loss is much greater because you are regularly exposed to loud noises. You also rely on your hearing more than most and hearing loss will make it incredibly difficult to pursue your passion for music.

If you experience any change in your hearing, you should see a hearing instrument specialist right away and get some advice about ear protection or hearing aids. Early intervention will help to protect your hearing in later life, so be vigilant and address any issues immediately. 

Earplugs are one of the most effective forms of ear protection for musicians, but many people have reservations about wearing them. They worry that the quality of sound will be affected, and this will make their job as a musician more difficult. However, good quality earplugs will only reduce the overall volume, without cutting out certain frequencies, so sound quality is unaffected. 

Why should you wear ear protection?

Loud noise exposure is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and tinnitus. As a musician, you are exposed to incredibly high levels of noise frequently during each concert or practice session. Without proper protection, you could sustain irreversible damage that will cause hearing loss and potentially prolonged tinnitus.

How is hearing loss measured?

Hearing loss comes in three different forms, sensorineural, conductive and mixed. Within these three types of hearing loss, there is a range in severity, including:

  • Normal: zero to 25dB
  • Mild: 25-40dB
  • Moderate: 41-55dB
  • Moderately severe: 56-70dB
  • Severe: 71-90dB

What is tinnitus?

It is common to experience tinnitus after spending a prolonged period immersed in a loud environment. Tinnitus causes a ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in your ears, one that doesn’t actually have an external cause. Tinnitus can often be prevented by wearing proper hearing protection.

How can you pick out the right protection?

When it comes to playing music, ordinary ear protection typically won’t do. You still need to be able to hear the lyrics and music, while blocking out those damaging sound levels. If you need some ear protection, this list of tips for selecting earplugs will ensure you get a comfortable and effective solution:

  • Great sound quality: Musicians need to be able to stay on track with the beat of the lyrics and music they’re playing. Look for options that offer the superior sound directly into your ear – one that refines the noise without muting the important part.  
  • Sound reduction: Depending on the type of music you play; you typically need a 15-30 decibel reduction to protect your hearing. While 20dBs is often the perfect balance, consider something stronger if your beat is heavier and something lighter if you have soft tones.
  • Comfort: Comfort is one of the most critical aspects of finding the right protection as a musician. If you aren’t comfortable wearing your protection, it means you will be less likely to use it. Talk to your hearing specialist about which options will provide you with the most custom fit.  

These are all great features for musicians to consider when looking for ear protection. Luckily, your hearing specialist will walk you through the process of finding the ideal solution for your specific needs. Some questions they may ask you to help expedite this process includes:

  • How long will you need to wear your hearing protection?
  • How often should you clean your hearing protection?
  • What kinds of styles are you considering?
  • Do you already wear hearing aids?
  • How frequently do you play?
  • What kind of music do you play?
  • Are you currently wearing earplugs?

However, as a musician, it is important to remember that although ear protection is effective, you still have a high risk of hearing loss in later life. So, make sure that you get your ears tested regularly and, if necessary, speak with a hearing instrument specialist about getting hearing aids fitted. 

If you think that long term exposure to loud noises may have caused a change in your hearing, get in touch with the Nu-Life Hearing Centre at (855) 867-7449 to learn more about potential solutions. Our professionals are well-versed in helping you not only find the right hearing protection solutions for your specific needs, but products that fit your lifestyle, hearing loss and cosmetic preferences.