Hearing Loss in Musicians

Hearing Loss in Musicians

Author: Sara H. Elshafei, Au.D., CCC-A

No matter what instrument you play, ears are a musician’s primary tool, and it is no secret that professional musicians run a higher risk of hearing loss. It can be an acoustic trauma from one instantaneous, loud sound or blast, or a gradual process that may take years to be noticed. When hearing difficulties are perceived, the effects can be devastating, especially to a professional musician.

When music is played at high volumes, the loud sounds can damage the microscopic hair cells in the inner ear, known as stereocilia. Unfortunately, these hair cells don’t grow back, which can lead to permanent hearing loss. In many people, hearing difficulties are noticed when things start to sound muffled or distorted and they may need to amplify volume to hear clearly.  Additionally, many musicians experience ringing in the ears, tinnitus, which is also a symptom of inner ear damage.

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Once musicians encounter hearing loss, the logical solution would be to turn to hearing aids which are designed to process a wide variety of sounds from soft to loud.  However, hearing instruments will not further amplify loud sounds to a damaging level, and they should never be used as a substitute for hearing protection.  So instead of using hearing aids during concerts, our audiologists recommend investing in musicians’ earplugs. These are better than regular foam earplugs, because they are made with specially designed filters that will not modify the frequencies in music but will protect against damaging levels of sound.

If you have any new or persisting problems with your hearing, make sure to contact our audiologists for a consultation. Bringing your professional and personal goals to life is our job, and we would be happy to help.

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