Do You Hear What I Hear?: Hearing Loss Within EDM
Adrenaline rush, euphoric high and deafening happiness are the feelings many—well at least I experience—after any show or music fest. Stepping outside a venue’s four walls, I take a moment to myself to let it all soak in from the performer to the people I come across, most times shows re-energize me but also leave me looking forward to my next musical encounter.
During one of my recent concert going experiences last month for Dada Life’s Compound Evolved Tour at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall—definitely one of the top five shows of my lifetime by the by, catch them if you can!—I realized three things:
- Man, can Dada Life pack some serious bass
- The amount of people not wearing ear plugs
- Wow, I must be getting older (or seasoned, to each their own) because I just realized point number two.
During the show, I remember taking my ear plugs out just to see if there was a difference. What was the verdict? H to the yes! Totally. I popped those bad boys back in and was so glad I hadn’t forgotten them (as I usually do). This prompted me to explore the topic of hearing (loss) and concerts. Perhaps it’s because I’m older now, but being the music aficionada that I am I need to protect these little ears of mine.
So what are some hearing problems associated with consistent exposure to loud noise? According to Diane Novak, Au.D. assistant director at Northwestern University’s Center for Audiology, Speech, Language and Learning some issues include hearing loss, tinnitus (the perception of noise or ringing in the ears) and a decrease to sound tolerance (Hyperacusis). “Noise exposure is cumulative and often occurs over time without people knowing until the hearing decreases enough to cause difficulty communicating,” explained Dr. Novak. “
Tinnitus is a common problem affecting 1 in 5 people according to the Mayo Clinic. It can interfere with the enjoyment of playing and listening to music. Once damage is done, is it reversible? “Once damage is done to the ears, it cannot be reversed,” said Dr. Novak. “There is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus but the effects of tinnitus can be managed through the use of amplification, sound therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of these.”
What are the signs of hearing loss? “People sound like they are mumbling, increasing the volume on TV or radio, difficulty hearing in noise, difficulty hearing in groups of 3 or more, saying ‘what’ or ‘huh’ more frequently and end of day fatigue,” indicated Dr. Novak.
Alright my fellow concert and festival lovers, we obviously can’t control the level of volume and well, to be honest, we want to feel that bass in most EDM shows. What can you do to take preventative measures to protect your hearing? Wear hearing protection, move further away from the sound intensity and limit the time spent listening to loud sounds counsels Dr. Novak. Hearing loss from loud noise is 100 percent preventable! You want to go to raves until your hair turns white, right? Invest in a pair of high fidelity musician earplugs as suggested by the doctor. Foam ear plugs are an effective way in preventing hearing loss, if worn properly.
If you suspect damage to your hearing, see an audiologist for a base line hearing test and receive annual check-ups to monitor your hearing protection is effective.
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