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Hearing Loss and Concerts: Why You Should Wear Hearing Protection

You can damage your ears permanently in less than an hour of loud (really loud) music - the kind you hear at concerts.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported on what's called sound pressure levels - basically, how loud the sound at concerts may reach depending on where you sit. The numbers won't surprise you until you understand the impact these high dB rock gatherings under the stars have on your hearing, whether you're 18 and getting as close as you can to the 10 foot wall of speakers, or a 55-year-old taking the grandkids to see The Jonas Brothers. (Aren't you nice.)

The report used standard sound-level measuring equipment at different locations for different groups and gauged the sound levels to every day sounds for easy comparison. The findings?

So, you're thinking, rock is supposed to be loud and you don't do it all the time and it'll only be for two or three hours (don't forget the opening act) so why not, right? Well, the fact is, sounds this loud can actually do permanent damage to the hearing mechanism in as little as 60 minutes.

Noised-induced hearing loss is clearly on the rise, as demonstrated in a recent study conducted by Vanderbilt University's Bill Wilkerson Center, in conjunction with MTV.com.

The study, involving 2,500 MTV respondents, showed that 32% of concert goers reported tinnitus - ringing in the ears - after attending a rock concert. The Center's director and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt, Roland Eavey, M.D., didn't pull any punches when the report was published.

"Hearing loss is so prevalent that it has become the norm," Eavey stated in a report published by the Vanderbilt Medical Center. "We know where we are headed; it would be a miracle if we don't wind up with [hearing loss] problems later on. It is kind of like the bus is heading down towards the brick wall and you can see that the crash is going to come."

So, what can you do to protect the hearing that you still have left?

  • First, wearing hearing protection! Consider purchasing custom musician earplugs to provide optimal sound quality while still protecting.
  • Second, do not sit near the speakers. Sit in rows farther back from.
  • If it's a marathon music fest, take a walk to get away from the music for an hour or two.
  • Sit off to one side or the other of the stage. This way, the sound wave tsunami produced by stacks of amps, woofers and tweeters doesn't hit you smack in the ear drum.
  • Finally, leave early. It's the long-term exposure to loud music that causes hearing loss so shorten the term - even if it means you miss the three encores. Your long-term hearing is more important than any concert.

To learn more about the mentioned studies and ways you can protect your hearing while attending concerts, visit: Summer Concerts and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: Pack Your Earplugs .

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