Ear Plugs, Humming And Moderation
Prevention and Treatment There are many sources of noise in everyday life and certainly the music industry is no exception. Musicians have to put up with explosions, loud cymbal crashes, feedback from speakers, and like the rest of us, the routine noise of everyday life.
Even quiet noises, if one listens to them long enough, can damage one’s hearing. A dial tone on a telephone, if listened to long enough, can cause a permanent hearing loss -- it’s not just rock music. A permanent hearing loss can be the result of a single loud blast, but more often is the result of years of exposure to sounds that one would not normally think of as damaging.
Protect your ears
When it comes to hearing protection, conventional “foam” hearing protection has historically not been well received by those in the performing arts and by music listeners. This form of earplug usually causes the wearer to hear speech and music as if was muffled and unclear. However, for the past 25 years a new “flat” or uniform earplug has been available that allows the listener to hear music at a safe level, but without changing it. Those who wear them tend to frequently forget that they are actually wearing hearing protection.
"If you know that a loud sound or blast is about to occur, start humming before the blast and continue until the blast is finished."
Another strategy is to hum while you work. Humans have a small muscle in their middle ears that contract upon loud sounds. From an evolutionary perspective, we have such a muscle so that our own voice would not be too loud for us. When this muscle (called the stapedius muscle) contracts, it pulls on the chain of bones in the ear that conduct sounds, making them less efficient as conductors thereby providing us with significant protection. If you know that a loud sound or blast is about to occur, start humming before the blast and continue until the blast is finished. Drummers have known this for years without being told.
Finally, permanent hearing loss starts as a series of temporary hearing losses. When you come out of a rock concert or other loud venue, your hearing may temporarily be decreased. You might notice a muffled feeling and may hear a ringing sound. This temporary hearing loss resolves after about a day but eventually it may become permanent, so practice moderation. If you see a loud rock group on Friday night, don’t mow your lawn on Saturday, or better still, get someone else to do it for you!