Listen Up or Lose It

Listen Up or Lose It

Listen Up or Lose It: Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

The Recording Academy’s Charity MusiCares® and Other Organizations Promote Hearing Health

Loud Rock Concert

Loud Rock Concert

PRS/ASCAP troubadour Frank Turner encourages you to #RespectYourEars at a MusiCares event

From the tunes blaring through your earbuds, to the roar of traffic, airplanes and other ambient noises, to the blast of sound at concerts, parties, movies, theaters and even retail outlets, the message is loud and clear: we live in an increasingly noisy world. Though it’s popular to “turn it up,” consistent overexposure to loud noise is damaging. Approximately 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by noise exposure,1 and music creators are four times more likely to suffer from hearing damage that’s 100% preventable.2 Musicians are almost 60% more likely to suffer from tinnitus,3 the sensation of hearing phantom sound commonly described as “ringing” and attributed to damaging noise exposure.

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No matter their preferred style and genre, all music creators and fans can be harmed by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Musicians have a much higher rate of hearing issues because damage results from sound volume and duration.4 According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), hearing loss begins with long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels. As a symphonic orchestra reaches 120 decibels to 137 decibels and a full-throttle rock concert tops 150 decibels, there is an obvious problem. Loud sounds can damage microscopic hair cells that line the inner ear, known as stereocilia. Those hair cells don’t grow back, so the loss is permanent, according to the NIDCD. In many people, this leads to muffled or distorted sounds or the need to use hearing aids to amplify sound.

Ironically, NIHL is totally preventable with proper hearing protection, yet many music creators are either unaware of preventive measures, or choose not to take the necessary steps. Some of the inaction stems from the cultures within musical genres. Band and orchestral artists have similar rates of hearing loss due to consistent overexposure to noise in rehearsals and concerts, yet band members are significantly less likely to perceive risk or use protective equipment. Among band types, a 2016 study found that pipe band musicians had the highest incidence of hearing loss, greatest awareness of risk, and highest rates of earplug and screen use. In contrast, brass band players demonstrated poor risk awareness and a reluctance to use protective equipment.5 When it comes to rock, a 2015 study found hearing loss in 37.8% of rockers. Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, 60% have some sort of hearing loss, according to Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.).

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood. But I wish I’d thought about it earlier.” – PRS/ASCAP songwriter Chris Martin, Coldplay

The key step music professionals must take to protect their hearing is to wear protective earplugs. The use of hearing protection, in particular custom-fitted earplugs, has a preventive effect, but very few people apply them consistently. To raise awareness for hearing health and change the culture of the industry, several A-list rockers have begun to publically advocate for hearing health in the music industry, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Chris Martin, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sting, Pete Townshend and Neil Young. Organizations such as H.E.A.R. provide free earplugs at rock concerts and festivals for musicians and fans.

Top Five Ways to Protect Your Hearing

  1. Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noises
  2. Turn down the volume – headphones, mix quietly in the studio, etc
  3. Wear good quality ear plugs
  4. Use noise-canceling headphones.
  5. Get regular hearing checkups

Listen Up Or Lose It – Buy Your Earplugs Now

Organizations such as H.E.A.R. target musicians and fans in the specific genre of rock, butMusiCares,® a charity of The Recording Academy®, works with all music people, regardless of genre or occupation within the industry, to ensure their hearing safety and wellbeing through preemptive measures and free treatment. The nonprofit organization hosts hearing clinics that offer screenings, education, and fittings for custom ear plugs free of charge. More than 60 hearing clinics were held in 55 cities across the country over the course of MusiCares’ current fiscal year. MusiCares has also collaborated with The Recording Academy’s P&E wing to provide additional focus on the hearing issues specific to producers and engineers. In addition, this spring, the rock band Pearl Jam developed a unique partnership with MusiCares to provide custom branded ear plugs to attendees at each of their national spring tour dates.

The MusiCares hearing clinics are part of the organization’s Healthy Essentials clinics, which allow members of the music community to receive a full spectrum of primary and preventative services provided by medical professionals on a regular basis. The Healthy Essentials initiative encompasses everything from flu shot clinics and dental care to hearing health programs. For music people interested in attending a hearing health or another clinic, check the MusiCares website for upcoming events. Interested participants must have at least five years music industry experience, and complete a brief application to qualify through MusiCares. Clinics are held across the United States at various times throughout the year.

Bikers modifying motorcycles leading to more noise pollution

Bikers modifying motorcycles leading to more noise pollution

Motorbikers are modifying their motorcycle  exhausts leading to yet more noise pollution

For Naresh Patel, guessing the exact time at night is no big deal. The moment he hears ‘thud, thud, thud, thud,” he knows well it is 10.30 pm. It’s his neighbour returning home and deafening sound from his bike announces his arrival.

Patel may not be the lone person experiencing the noise pollution. Modified motorbikes with extra exhaust pipes or silencers are become nightmare for many in the city. Such vehicles not only make deafening noise, but also emit toxic chemicals into the air.

Even fellow commuters on the road do not feel safe when the bikers ridding such bikes zoom past them making thundering sound and making them go off-balance.

Sources say that youngsters who want to show off their mean machines are opting for bike modification. And thriving, but illegal, bike modification market in the city is acting as a catalyst for increasing the number of bikes facilitating the influx of with ‘loud silencers’ on the road.

Who are their customers? They are the youngsters wanting to show off their vehicles, says mechanics.

“Here, Enfield Bullet, Plusar and Yamaha bikes are a rage among youngsters. The modification includes new shapes to the outer body and changing the exhaust pipes of the bikes to provide a macho ‘thud,thud’ noise,” says Paresh, a bike modifier.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, any alteration to the factory model is illegal. “Any change that increases the weight of the vehicle by 10% can be done with the consent of the manufacturer and the regional transport office. Changes to exhaust pipe cannot be allowed,” said a regional transport officer.

Removing the catalytic converter, a component fitted to the exhaust pipe is the easiest, way to increase the thump.

“This type of silencer is called a free flow exhaust. It produces more sound but toxic gases, filtered by the catalytic converter are directly released into the air,” said an expert from SVNIT college.

The city police has already started a drive to catch the youngsters riding on the modified bikes with loud silencers and deafening horns.

“Every day around 15 to 20 youngsters are fined for riding haphazardly on the roads. We also check the modifications and issue them with separate challans. On weekends, we organize drives in the areas like Piplod, Vesu, Dumas road, etc, for drag racers,” said a senior police officer.

Adolescent Tinnitus

Adolescent Tinnitus

Adolescent Tinnitus At Crisis Levels Experts Report

Adolescent Tinnitus And Hearing Loss Infographic

Adolescent Tinnitus And Hearing Loss Infographic

Excessive exposure to loud music, via headphones, mobile devices and live music venues, may be associated with an alarming level of adolescent tinnitus among adolescents, according to recent research in Scientific Reports.

“The levels of sound exposure that are quite commonplace in our environment, particularly among youth, appear to be sufficient to produce hidden cochlear injuries,”

Larry E. Roberts, PhD, of the department of psychology, neuroscience and behavior at McMaster University, said in a press release.

“It’s a growing problem, and I think it’s going to get worse. My personal view is that there is a major public health challenge coming down the road in terms of difficulties with hearing.”

Roberts and other researchers studied a cohort of 170 adolescents (61.1% boys) aged 11 to 17 years in Brazil. Study participants were administered a survey related to prior instances of tinnitus, exposure to risky listening habits and sensitivity to ordinary sounds. The researchers also gathered psychoacoustic measurements by testing study participants in a sound booth.


Adolescent Tinnitus

Study results showed that 54.7% of participants reported experiencing tinnitus, while 28.8% displayed measurements of persistent tinnitus in the sound booth. The investigators noted that the measurements of tinnitus recorded in the sound booth were consistent with adult chronic tinnitus.

They also found that risky listening habits were nearly universal within the study cohort. Among participants who experienced both tinnitus and loudness discomfort levels, 95.6% reported use of earbuds or earphones, 89.1% reported attending loud music venues, and 95.6% reported use of mobile phones for listening purposes.

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“Exposure to high levels of recreational sound appears to be increasing among children and adolescents and is a likely factor contributing to an increasing incidence of hearing loss which has been reported in Western industrialized countries,” Roberts and colleagues wrote. “Longitudinal studies involving cohorts such as those examined here will be needed to evaluate risks to future hearing health posed by tinnitus and reduced sound level tolerance experienced in adolescence.”

David Costill

Are Earplugs The New Rubbers?

Are Earplugs The New Rubbers?

Earplugs are being used as prophylactics or the new rubbers

Loud Rock Concert

Loud Rock Concert

I remember the first time I saw someone wearing earplugs casually. My friend Christa and I were at a rock concert at Pacific Standard Tavern, which boasts New Haven’s most modern sound system outside of College Street Music Hall, when I noticed two blue cones protruding from her ears.

My first response was alarm. Christa went to more concerts than anyone I knew. I felt betrayed, as though the earplugs were an admission that Christa really was not there for the music, just for the scene.

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You have something in your ears, I told her.

She turned and said, “I know.”

I barely heard her with my naked ears. I realized I hardly heard myself. But she had heard me.

From small clubs to big theaters, music shows have been getting louder for at least a generation. But earplug use hasn’t caught up. Is it starting to? Are they the new rubbers?

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In between songs, music fans are having that debate.

typicalsoundlevelscrAccording to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, hearing protectors enhance speech comprehension in loud places the way sunglasses enhance vision in extreme brightness. The rule of thumb is that noise damages your hearing if you are at arm’s length and have to shout to make yourself heard.

So basically, every rock, rap, or electronic concert I have ever been to has subtly chipped away at my inner ear.

Christa started wearing earplugs after a music festival friend of hers developed a nasty case of tinnitus, a constant ringing in your ears that makes it nearly impossible to sleep without some sort of white noise — an open window, a television humming — to mitigate the high-pitched whine in your head.

ear-defense-packaging-265x415Studies haven’t conclusively documented the benefits or earplugs, but do suggest that they do eliminate at least some short-term hearing loss, according to this report from Reuters. One key factor: Using them right.

In an interview with the Independent, Dr. Elias Michaelides, director of theYale Center for Hearing and Balance, confirmed research indicating that as many as one in five teens suffer from hearing loss, and those numbers are only getting worse. The latest study, from JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, concludes that loud music at live events is at least partly responsible for that loss.

“We don’t know if younger ears are more vulnerable,” Dr. Michaelides said, “but when you are young you still have a hearing reserve so you might not notice the damage at all.” Damage can be caused by the cumulative effects of loudness over time, not just noise trauma. The inner ear never regenerates.

Michaelides explained exactly what is happening when your ears start ringing.

“Essentially, the cochlea of your inner ears contain long rows of haired cells,” he said. When these hairs pick up vibrations from sound waves, those are converted into nerve signals. Really loud sound damages the cell hairs through over-stimulation. The eardrum only tears when it pops, which is unusual unless you are standing close to a grenade or smacked directly in your ear.”

It’s not hard to understand how these cell hairs get overstimulated. The distortion in the sound in this video from a (really good) Mates of State show at BAR is because of the sheer volume of the music, and this video was shot from behind the house’s speaker, not in front of it.

Michaelides regularly sees the worst cases, those who come in after days or weeks of constant ringing. His patients often admit that the last show they went to was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Hearing protection is a valid medical preventative precaution,” he said.


Medical plans rarely cover earplugs; if musicians declare their creative income, earplugs should be tax deductible. Prescription earplugs can range into the hundreds of dollars, but many are happy with what they’ve gotten. The over-the-counter versions are cheaper — a pack of 14 pairs of foam earplugs runs about $5 at Walgreens — but they are possibly too effective. Alternativeky, a really good pair of earplugs can be purchased from Amazon.

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Thousands Of People Missing Out On Holidays Because Of Hearing Loss

Thousands Of People Missing Out On Holidays Because Of Hearing Loss

THOUSANDS of Scots are missing out on dream holidays because of their hearing loss.

Hearing-Loss-1-350x233Difficulties hearing among crowds or over background noise mean two-fifths of those who suffer from some form of hearing impairment are avoiding holidays to noisy or city destinations altogether.

Almost a quarter say their hearing problems have led to them being far less adventurous when it comes to travelling.

A third even went as far as to say their hearing problems made them feel anxious when they went on holiday or travelled somewhere new.

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The research, by hearing specialist Amplifon, involving more than 2,000 people who suffer hearing problems. It found that New York, Madrid and Tokyo were perceived as among the noisiest travel destinations in the world.

Barry Downes, Amplifon’s professional services manager, said: “The world becomes a smaller place for people with hearing loss if they don’t take steps to deal with their problems.

“Many admit they become less adventurous when choosing a holiday, not just in terms of the destinations they pick but also the types of activities they take part in.



“One of the most uplifting things about going on holiday, especially if it involves travelling abroad, is being able to immerse yourself in a new culture, which involves taking in the sounds as well as the sights.

“Being able to hear properly is therefore integral to the quality of the experience.

“A third of those surveyed also said their hearing loss made them more anxious about travelling, which is understandable given that they may have problems picking up important information such as flight announcements or details of planned excursions.”

William Allan, 57, from Irvine, Ayrshire, is one of many who found his hearing problems were holding him back as he and his wife Valerie tried to tick off their holiday bucket list.

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Top of their list of destinations was China, but what should have been the trip of a lifetime turned into a nightmare because poor hearing stopped William from fully appreciating all the country had to offer.

He said: “We’d been looking forward to travelling for so long but when we eventually got to China I spent the whole time shackled to the tour guide because if she moved too far away I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

“The whole trip was a nightmare to be perfectly honest because the fact I couldn’t hear properly had a real impact on the quality of the experience.

“You need information to make proper sense of the sites you are visiting, whether it’s the Terracotta Warriors or The Great Wall of China, otherwise you’ll never appreciate their full historical value, so from that point of view, China was pretty frustrating for me and I came away thinking ‘why did I bother?’”

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His nightmare trip to China was a turning point, after which he decided to be fitted with a hearing aid.

Allan said: “One good thing came out of that trip to China – it forced me to make the conscious decision that if I ever went on a long-haul holiday again, I must be able to hear properly. I waited four or five years before seeking professional help and I regret that, because it’s time I can’t get back.

“After getting a hearing aid fitted, we went to Vietnam and Cambodia last year and the whole experience compared to China, from a hearing perspective, was like night versus day.

“Apart from hearing everything the tour guide said, I also felt more confident in my ability to hear conversations properly so, from a social point of view, the whole experience was far more enjoyable.”

The National Scot

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