There was a recent article by the BBC on music-induced hearing loss. They interviewed WHO (World Health Organization). Concerts came up as a definite hazard. Well exceeding 85 dB into higher decibel levels which can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Earplugs were recommended. But the question was asked: What is the point of a concert if you are going to avoid the music? I was totally disappointed in the WHO’s answer which talked about it being a struggle like alcohol consumption but people just need to be aware and wear earplugs regardless. I beg your pardon?
Using hearing protection to protect yourself from music damage is not like alcoholism. In my opinion, they lost a huge opportunity to make people aware that there is specialized hearing protection designed specifically for music exposure. They are often called musicians earplugs or high fidelity earplugs. Have they never seen the contestants on American Idol with their techno ear gear? And many musicians now are wearing music protection. The key is that music protection turns down the loudness equally at all frequencies or pitches. Keeping the music undistorted. It just makes the music softer.
Earplugs are to ears what sunglasses are to eyes. Sunglasses don’t make you blind. They cut out the hazardous sun beams. Earplugs don’t make you deaf. They cut out the hazardous noise beams, lowering the exposure to a safer level. People should use them at concerts or clubs the same as people wear bike helmets for bikes.
If you’re going to concerts or clubs, you can find musicians earplugs at various places like safety supply stores, audiology clinics or on-line. These are sometimes called filtered or high fidelity earplugs for music. Some come in a one size fits all earplug where others costing more can be custom molded to your ear (usually can get them from an audiologist). If you’re still worried about the noise and less concerned about a bit of distortion, then get a solid earplug (e.g. foam type or can get custom molded to your ear). This will cut the overall decibels the most. That’s what I now use.
So why wear musicians earplugs at a concert? Because music protection can lower the decibels and increase your safe listening time while keeping the music sounding the way it should. And that’s what people need to be aware of.
Jan L. Mayes MSc writes horror fiction and non-fiction, and is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author, blogger and audiologist specializing in noise, tinnitus-hyperacusis, hearing health education and plotting murders. Her writing has been featured at Tinnitus Today, Communique, silencity.com and The Horror News Daily.