Is your music damaging your hearing?

Music is one of life’s pleasures. Whether singing along to the radio, listening at a concert or making our own, music has the power to affect mood and emotions in people young and old.

To ensure we’re able to continue enjoying our favourite tunes into the future, it’s important we take care of our ears while we’re listening now.

Often we don’t realise we’re using music to cover up other sounds around us, and we’ll nudge up the volume in line with noises like the car engine, the neighbour mowing the lawn or the sound of the washing machine whirring. But competing with those noises can mean you end up listening at a dangerous volume, one that can seriously damage your hearing, causing:   

  • Long term hearing loss – this is often a gradual process which may not even be noticed until the damage is quite extensive.

  • Tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing in the ear. For some, the tinnitus may go away, for others it may come and go and for some it’s a permanent frustration that affects concentration, stress levels and sleep.

  • Temporary hearing loss – a hearing loss that lasts for a few hours or days but then goes away. Studies have shown there will still be some residual permanent damage for those experiencing seemingly temporary hearing loss.

So, how can you enjoy your music without damaging your hearing?

Be aware of the noises around you. Before you turn on the music, listen to the sounds in the background and make sure you don’t try to compete with them. A good rule of thumb is to set the volume lower than 60 per cent and take a break after 60 minutes.

For musicians, remember you rely on good hearing to make your music, and your ears are particularly vulnerable to noise exposure, so you’ll need to ensure you do everything you can to protect them. It’s a good idea to invest in some earplugs specially designed for musicians so you can hear clearly without doing damage to your hearing.

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