Tinnitus is a common condition that can affect anyone at any age and noise exposure is one of the biggest causes. Hearing loss is the biggest single cause and consequently more people have tinnitus as they age. However, younger people put themselves at risk because they are more likely to attend clubs, gigs, festivals and listen to loud music via other means.
Scientists say a sound of 85 decibels (dB) is considered dangerous, potentially leading to a loss of hearing. Listening to music on your iPhone at full volume represents 100 dB and a typical gig has a dB level of 115.
Due to mobile technology, earbuds and headphones are increasingly becoming parts of our lives and music can give us a great deal of pleasure as human beings and the more we like it, the more we turn it up. It's only natural, but be aware that tinnitus and hearing loss are almost inevitable if you don't look after your hearing. Even relatively low level noise will likely result in hearing loss and tinnitus if the noise is consistent enough so take breaks at the very least.
Earphones, the type that sit just at the entrance to the ear canal do not eliminate a great deal of external noise. This means you have to turn the volume up louder to be able to hear your player more clearly. Headphones are better as they cover the ear and the active noise cancelling type are the best. These can be quite expensive so soft ear buds that go someway into the ear canal are good value and very good at reducing environmental noise. Tinnitus UK centres can take impressions of your ears and make custom earphones which are designed to fit your ears perfectly for the best in ambient noise elimination along with the best in music reproduction quality. They can also make a set of earplugs from the same impressions.
It sounds obvious but don’t stand by the speakers! The closer you are to the source of the sound, the louder it will be. If you are going to a club or festival avoid standing or sitting by the speakers. Permanent hearing loss and tinnitus are a genuine risk from extreme noise conditions.
If you are going to be exposed to sounds over 85 dB wear hearing protection. Download a sound level meter to your phone to check where the dangers are. Let's be honest though, how many of us will want to turn things down when we are attending somewhere to have the full experience ? However, if it is your job as a musician, DJ, sound engineer, roadie or any other position where you are going to be exposed to loud music on a regular basis, you must invest in a pair of decent earplugs. Even if your lucky enough to get away with it when you're younger, the continuous effect is cumulative and you'll likely regret you're laissez-faire attitude when you're older. Therefore as a minimum, give your ears a break. If you are in a loud music environment take some time out and let your ears have a rest.
Stress, anxiety and tiredness: You may already have tinnitus and in fact many of us do and only become aware of it now and then. That's because our brains are able to suppress and ignore it as a non-useful sound. When we are stressed, anxious or tired, tinnitus can sometimes make its way into our lives. Try to keep a healthy life balance. Do things you enjoy (not listening to loud music!) and de-stress everyday by taking some time out for yourself. Stay fit, eat well and get some sleep.
If you enjoy music, do it sensibly and you'll enjoy it for many years to come. If you don't, you risk diminishing one of your life's great pleasures. If you think you already have bothersome tinnitus and/or hearing loss, please contact us here at Tinnitus UK for an assessment and advice on how to stop it from getting any worse.
All Tinnitus UK centres can take impressions of your ears to make custom earphones and custom ear plugs for work, pleasure, swimming and sleeping.