October 14, 2013
by weareallears

French horn players at high risk of hearing loss

It’s not just rock musicians who are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Researchers at the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney have discovered a worrying trend of hearing loss amongst professional French horn players, Medical Daily reports.

The study, originally published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, took place during the 2010 annual event of the International Horn Society in Brisbane. Researchers examined the hearing of 144 French horn players, performing audiometric assessments and measuring sound levels to determine if the horn players were at risk of harmful levels of noise exposure.

“Using both conservative and lenient criteria for hearing loss and correcting for age, we found that between 11 percent and 22 percent of the participants showed some form of hearing loss typical of noise-induced hearing loss,” said study investigator Ian O’Brien, who is a doctoral degree candidate at the University of Sydney and a French horn player himself.

O’Brien and his team also gave out a questionnaire at the International Horn Society event, in order to investigate the horn players’ attitudes towards hearing conservation.

“We were surprised to learn that only 18 percent of participants reported using any sort of hearing protection,” said lead researcher Wayne Wilson, a senior lecturer in audiology at the University of Queensland. “Even within that 18 percent, the use of hearing protection appears to be inadequate with 81 percent of these participants reporting the frequency of their use as ‘sometimes’ and 50 percent reporting they use generic, foam, or other inferior forms of protection.”

These startling numbers confirm that French horn players are one of the most likely groups to develop noise-induced hearing loss among professional musicians. O’Brien said the findings “reinforce the need to educate horn players about the need to protect hearing and how to best achieve this while still enabling musicians to play to the highest level.”

Exposure to high levels of noise is one of leading causes of hearing loss in Australia. Occupational noise-induced hearing loss in particular is a major health concern, with an estimated 12% of the workforce repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of noise.

Because occupational hearing loss is a condition that progresses gradually, it is often not detected until a significant amount of hearing has been lost. This means you have to be proactive if you play an instrument or work in a noisy environment! Use earplugs to preserve your hearing ability. Visit your local Connect Hearing clinic for more information, or read about earplugs here.

Do you play an instrument? If so, have you taken steps to minimise the risk of hearing loss? Tell us in the comments below.

October 14, 2013
by weareallears

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