Music is the universal language, but what happens if the music is causing you harm?
Listening to music can be therapeutic, but listening to loud music can be detrimental to your hearing. And the stress factors on your hearing can be much worse if you’re actually in the band among the instruments and surrounded by amps and speakers many nights a week year in and out.
This was brought to light recently when Brian Johnson, lead singer for Australian rock band AC/DC, had to cancel concerts due to his acute hearing loss. The loss may result in him requiring a hearing aid or even a cochlear implant. In the meantime the band is looking to former Guns N Roses lead singer Axl Rose to step in temporarily while Johnson seeks treatment and works out a solution that will shield him from exposure to the loud stadium sounds.
While Johnson may continue to record in the studio, time will tell if he can return to live performance without risking “total deafness”.
If you’re not a fan of AC/DC you may be wondering what this means for you. Perhaps you play in a band, in which case you should definitely be taking appropriate precautions when performing or recording. Always wear protective ear wear and ensure that you don’t have your sound equipment turned up dangerously loud, for your own safety and the safety of others.
Perhaps you’re a regular concert-goer, in which case you too should be protecting your hearing with earplugs when necessary and always aim not to sit too close to speakers.
Listening to music, or any noise, at anything more than 85 decibels for over an hour is considered damaging to your hearing.
If you’re new to hearing aids, it’s best not to take your hearing aids to a concert straight away. You will need to retrain your hearing to work with your hearing devices. This may take a little time and you don’t want to rush into anything and be overwhelmed with sound.
There are practice exercises you can do to get used to listening to isolated sounds at various volumes first before you rejoin the world of rock concerts. You’ll need to be able to follow a conversation, or random noises from soft sounds to louder sounds so you can work your way up to being able to tolerate loud sounds. Your hearing specialist will be able to help you with the best exercises for you in this adjustment period.
Once you’re confident with your hearing aids, you can head back to listening to your favourite bands live, because as AC/DC say, “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”.