If you have spent an extra amount of time playing music, you know that it can be hard on the body. Long weeks on the road, playing a gig and driving the three hundred miles in the night to make it to the next one. Eating bad food on the road with little opportunity for exercise or a healthy meal; limited showers between sweaty and smoky bars and clubs; late nights spent drinking and missing out on critical sleep. However, there is another far more permanent and damaging problem– determining what to do about the loss of the ability to distinguish sounds. A hearing test is critical to ensure that not only do you not lose your life, but that you do not end up permanently deaf.
It is hard admitting that your life spent with such an ear for good tunes has now degraded to the point where the television volume has to be maxed out. Not everyone has had the benefit of the research that has taken place in the last several decades. The idea of wearing ear protection while playing music was totally foreign to many people. Other simply refused to block out their portal to the outside world. For those who have spent many years performing with insufficient protection, there is a real urgency to seeing a doctor and having a hearing test.
Damage can manifest in many ways. Some experience temporary or permanent tinnitus, commonly called ringing in the ears. This condition is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it can also cause serious repeating emotional and psychological effects. In fact, some people commit suicide as a result of this problem becoming too severe. Fortunately, there are some treatments available and therapies that can be used, but it is essential to diagnose the problem early and quickly to prevent further damage.
Another problem is called noise-induced loss. This is a result of many different situations that a musician finds himself or herself in daily. It is caused by exposure to high decibel sound, lengthy exposure, a short distance from speakers, and high frequency of exposure. This perfect storm of conditions puts musicians in a particularly at-risk position. Typically, a good indication of whether you need to confront this problem or not is determining if you are performing behaviors that are indicative of a nascent problem. Those who find themselves listening to records and CD players at increasingingly high volumes may be suffering from a deficiency. Also, if a person is finding that they need to hold the telephone to one specific ear it could indicate lost sensitivity. All of these problems, and even just the exposure are cause to call a doctor and have a hearing test.
Even in situations where no damage has happened, speaking with an audiologist can help a person understand their risk. Also, these doctors can custom fit and prescribe earplugs of muffs to protect against future problems. With the proper use of these plugs and an occasional hearing test it is possible to keep jamming while keeping your ears protected.