How Music Lovers Can Protect Residual Hearing

How Music Lovers Can Protect Residual Hearing

In Hearing Health by liamthomas1

According to legend Leonard Cohen, “Music is the emotional life of most people.” Whether or not you self-identify as a music lover, it’s difficult to argue with the importance that music plays in the quality of a person’s life. 

For people with progressive hearing loss due to aging or excessive noise exposure, continuing to indulge their love of music without incurring further hearing damage can be a valid concern. But protecting the hearing you have doesn’t mean banishing harmony and song from your life forever. 

What Is Residual Hearing?

When we talk about hearing loss, we often focus on the hearing health that has been lost. However, the hearing ability that remains plays a foundational role in the success of treatments like hearing aids and cochlear implants. This still-functioning hearing is called residual hearing.

It’s also the reason why intervening sooner rather than later can help to improve outcomes because artificially amplified sound (such as with hearing aids) relies on established pathways from the inner ear to the brain’s processing centers. 

How Noise Impacts Hearing Health

In addition to the progressive hearing loss that is caused by the natural aging process, exposure to excessive noise can impart lasting damage on hearing health. Long-term exposure to loud sounds, such as those found at concerts, festivals, and clubs, and even personal listening through headphones or earbuds, can put listeners at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Music fans can be particularly vulnerable to this type of hearing loss. 

Live music events, such as concerts and festivals, typically involve amplification equipment that produce a high sound pressure level. A prolonged exposure to sound levels that are louder than 85 decibels can cause damage to the sensitive hair cells that are located in the inner ear and are responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. Often, concerts and clubs exceed 85 decibels easily, and can reach as high as 120 decibels. 

Volume matters when it comes to hearing health. The higher the volume, the shorter the duration we can safely listen. For music lovers, who often attend events like festivals or concerts that run the entire day, that exposure might last for a number of hours. Because the hair cells in the ear do not have time to recuperate from the effects of continuous exposure to loud music over an extended period of time, the risk of hearing impairment is increased.

Be Aware Of Listening Habits

Using ear plugs or other ear protection for periods of time at music festivals and concerts is one way to combat the threat of hearing loss. But what if your earbuds or headphones are themselves the danger? 

A significant number of people who enjoy listening to music do it with the assistance of these devices. If the volume is turned up too high, you may be subjected to potentially hazardous sound that enters your ear canal directly. With maximum volumes easily within the 90-100 decibel range, in-ear headphones can deliver higher sound levels closer to the eardrum, which increases the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

You can create responsible listening habits in regards to personal devices by pledging to maintain a mid-volume level. Try to stay at the halfway mark with few deviations and never exceed two-thirds of maximum. This can be challenging to music lovers, who may already have loud listening habits entrenched. 

Noise-canceling headphones are a great investment that ensures your music selection isn’t competing with outside noises for your attention, allowing for a lower volume to deliver a mighty impact.

Keep in mind that continuing to enjoy music into old age depends on regulating your personal volumes now and only crank it up for your very favorite songs. 

Have Your Hearing Checked

Be proactive about regular hearing health checks. Between the ages of 18 and 50, people should have their hearing tested every ten years. Those over 50 should have a hearing exam every three years and those older than 65 should have an annual exam. 

If you are concerned about changes in your hearing health or are an avid music listener, then make an appointment today. We can ascertain your current hearing health and develop a reasonable plan to protect your current hearing health today and in the future.