Whether music is a hobby or a professional calling, many people become musicians because they love playing an instrument or performing in front of others. Unfortunately, musicians' passion for the craft often comes with serious risks, including hearing loss and other hearing-related problems. 

For this reason, musicians should approach hearing protection as seriously as they do their art. In doing so, they are safeguarding more than just their hearing health; they will also protect their ability to continue making or playing music for decades.

If you’re a musician who has recently developed hearing issues — or if you want to shield yourself from future problems — you should learn how to mitigate hearing loss risks with proper protection techniques.

Recognizing the Risks

Studies show that musicians carry four times the risk of developing mild to moderate noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) than those in other professions. Other research indicates that as many as half of musicians worldwide experience at least a small degree of tinnitus (ringing in the ears). 

In musicians, hearing loss typically happens due to repeated exposure to loud sounds. This exposure happens in recording studios while creating music and during performances where musical instruments and the surrounding crowd may be extremely loud. 

For these reasons, ear health issues can also affect people who work with musicians, including concert venue staff, music producers, personal assistants, and even music industry executives.

Common Types of Hearing Protection for Musicians

Unfortunately, most noise-induced hearing loss is permanent. However, there is good news: It’s also highly preventable. Musicians must take special precautions to protect themselves from NIHL to avoid jeopardizing their ear health.

A musician’s first line of defense against hearing loss should be behavioral changes. Since hearing loss is often gradual and may not show apparent signs or symptoms, contacting an audiologist for an annual checkup is essential to catch any early signs of hearing loss. 

In addition, musicians should avoid prolonged daily exposure to sounds over 70 to 85 decibels by taking frequent listening breaks to promote healing.

It’s also vital for musicians of all types to adjust their equipment and environment. Using noise-canceling and output-limiting headphones is always better for your hearing health. You may not be able to control the acoustics in every performance venue, but try to practice your music outside (if possible) or in a venue with carpet and other textiles that can help dampen the noise level. 

The most critical hearing protection recommendation is wearing audio monitors, also known as in-ear monitors. While you’re performing or creating music, these devices will drown out the surrounding noise, allowing you only to hear the music or cues you need to perform. 

With high-quality in-ear monitors, you can hear yourself or your instrument more clearly and adjust the noise level so that it’s safe for your ears and doesn’t contribute to severe hearing loss.

Tips for Choosing the Right Kind of Protection

With so many resources and equipment models available on the market, how can you ensure you’re selecting the best protection for your situation? Some features to look out for include:

  • Custom fitting for better comfort and protection
  • Interchangeable ambient filters for enhanced sound isolation
  • High sound quality to enable greater clarity at lower volumes

When you take the time to evaluate your options, you can rest assured that your in-ear monitors will truly deliver the protection you seek.

Develop Healthier Hearing Habits with Arcade Hearing Aid Center

Hearing loss isn’t merely a physical problem; it can also take a toll on your mental and emotional health, interfering with your ability to share what you love with the world. The condition is avoidable, but you must take action as early as possible. Getting a hearing test and personalized prevention tips from a qualified expert is the best place to start.

The audiologists at Arcade Hearing Aid Center in Santa Monica, CA, have extensive experience treating and consulting with musicians about hearing loss prevention. Call us today to request an appointment to speak with an audiologist about custom audio monitors and other resources you can use to maintain your hearing health.