Can Music Cause Hearing Loss?

The two most common causes of hearing loss are aging and exposure to noise. While there may not be anything you can do to prevent yourself from getting older, you can do something about loud noises. One of the biggest culprits of exposure to noise is listening to music.

Noised-Induced Hearing LossA vinyl record player.

In order to understand how music can affect your hearing, it is important to understand how you hear.

A soundwave is captured by your outer ear and funneled down the ear canal until it hits the eardrum. This creates a vibration, which gets passed through the tiny bones of the middle ear. When the vibration reaches the inner ear, which is filled with fluid and lined with delicate hair cells, it causes these hair cells to move. This movement creates an electrical impulse, which travels through the auditory nerve to the brain where it is interpreted as sound.

If a noise is too loud, it can permanently damage the hair cells within the inner ear. And unlike hair elsewhere on your body, once the hair cells in your inner ear die, they do not grow back.

How Sound Is Measured

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB can cause hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) put together this list of decibel ratings for familiar sounds:

  • Normal conversation: 60-70 dB.
  • Movie theater: 74-104 dB.
  • Dirt bikes: 80-110 dB.
  • Concerts: 94-110 dB.
  • Sirens: 110-129 dB.
  • Fireworks: 140-160 dB.

How Music Puts Your Ears at Risk

Those who work in the music industry as well as anyone who enjoys attending live shows can be putting their hearing at risk. Of course, it depends how loud the music is, how close you are to the speakers and how long you are exposed to the music.

One 2015 study confirmed that professional pop, jazz and rock musicians’ exposure to amplified music was related to increased levels of hearing loss. In addition, the researchers determined that the more music experience the participants had, the higher their degree of hearing loss.

If you frequently find yourself at live events either at the House of Blues or at any of the local music venues in San Diego, you should always wear hearing protection. You can purchase disposable earplugs in a pinch, but if you want the best level of protection, you should consider custom-made earmolds.

Try to stay at least 10 feet away from the speakers and move around the venue to find the quietest spot. Taking periodic listening breaks by going outside or finding a quieter area can help limit your exposure.

To learn more about the impact hearing loss has on your health or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact San Diego Hearing Center today.

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