Turn it down and contact a licensed professional for assistance
A movie chronicling a rock drummer’s hearing loss netted a pair of Academy Awards, but the situation facing fictional character Ruben Stone in “Sound of Metal” can be all too true for both musicians and music lovers alike.
As outlined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the inner part of the ear contains tiny and delicate hair cells (nerve endings) that change sound into electric signals. Nerves then carry these signals on to the brain, which recognizes them as sound. However, these hair cells are easily damaged by loud noise: While normal conversation is about 40 decibels loud, headphones at maximum volume are 105 decibels and a rock concert can run as high as 140 decibels—as loud as a jet engine. So it’s no wonder that those frequently performing in or attending concerts, working in music venues, or enjoying loud music can have negative hearing impacts.
Those experiencing music-related hearing loss are far from alone. Famous artists experiencing major hearing loss or significant dysfunction directly resulting from loud music include:
- Who guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey.
- AC/DC singer Brian Johnson.
- Singer Ozzy Osbourne.
- Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis.
- Singer and guitarist Eric Clapton.
- Electronica artist Moby.
- Coldplay singer Chris Martin.
Many of these and other musical artists have had their careers directly impacted by their hearing conditions. For instance, AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss became so severe he had to go on hiatus when he had trouble simply hearing the band play, and when Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman began losing his hearing as a result of his band’s live shows, he turned to the quieter world of music composition.
Prevention can make a big difference in hearing health. According to the Library of Medicine, when going to or giving a concert, use foam or silicone earplugs or custom-fit musician earplugs. In addition, when listening to tunes, decrease the amount of time you use headphones and turn down the volume to the halfway point of your equipment.
But if, like these artists, you feel your hearing may have been impacted by loud music, the Library of Medicine says it’s time to seek professional help if:
- Some sounds seem louder than they should be.
- It is easier to hear men’s voices than women’s voices.
- You have trouble telling high-pitched sounds (such as “s” or “th”) from one another.
- Other people’s voices sound mumbled or slurred.
- You need to turn the television or radio up or down.
- You have ringing or a full feeling in your ears.
Professionals licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board are specially trained to help with numerous issues affecting hearing and speech. To learn more about these licensed professionals and their services, visit www.speechandhearing.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Related Reading: All About Audiologists