Musicians can experience hearing issues, just like anyone else. The effect of hearing problems for a musician can be profound.
One study of musicians* revealed that:-
24% experienced tinnitus
25% experienced hyperacusis
12% experienced distortion in their hearing
5% experienced diplacusis in one of its forms.
Of course, many of these musicians experienced two or more of the above symptoms at the same time.
*Association of British Orchestras
If you have hearing concerns, try not to worry, our clinical audiologists are experienced in the specific needs of the entertainment industry.
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Types of hearing loss
Noise induced hearing loss(NIHL)
Any loud sound, including music, can cause irreversible hearing loss.
The World Health Organisation report that NIHL is the most common, permanent and preventable occupational injury in the world.
Often when we have been exposed to loud music your hearing is dulled and there may be a ringing in your ears. This is called temporary threshold shift and our hearing will often recover after 24 – 48 hours.
But take this as a warning that whatever you were doing was too loud and you may have been risking hearing loss.
This temporary effect can become permanent with repeated exposure. The only way to prevent noise induced hearing loss is to protect your hearing or keep the volume down.
Talk to us about how you can protect your hearing.
Can result from over-exposure to loud music is hyperacusis.
This is a sensitivity to loud sounds, which in extreme cases can be painful. This is disastrous for a musician or a DJ because many loud sounds, including everyday sounds like a siren or a journey on the underground, can be very uncomfortable.
If you are living with hyperacusis it may be tempting to overuse earplugs so that everyday sounds are not uncomfortable.
However, this often serves to decrease your tolerance further so should be avoided.
A structured programme of desensitisation can help, but this should be under the guidance of a hearing therapist.
If you’ve finished a concert or left a nightclub and heard a ringing, whistling or hissing noise in your ears, this is tinnitus.
The sound can range from very quiet background noise to a disturbing louder noise. It can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness.
It is often worse when there is no other noise around you. So you may be more aware of it at night, when you’re trying to fall asleep or in a quiet room.
It will usually go away after a day or so but sometimes, particularly if you are often in loud noise, it may not.
If you are affected by tinnitus you should seek advice. Our hearing therapists also offers a range of strategies and tactics to help you live with your tinnitus and get on with life.
This is where you hear the same note at two different pitches—often at the correct pitch in one ear and either higher (sharp) or lower (flat) in the other ear.
This can be devastating to a musician who has previously had perfect pitch.
Diplacusis occurs when your ears have a significant difference in frequency selectivity.
This results in clashing interpretations (dissonance) of the tones that you hear.
Musicians may be considerably more sensitive to these slight pitch differences so you may be aware of, and bothered by, smaller pitch differences than even a semi-tone.