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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Hearing Protection, How Relevent?



Hi everyone!

The past few weeks I have been suffering with a horrendous flu that has spanned well over Christmas into the New Year. The worst part is the ear infection I am now left with! I have seen so many of you suffering with the same thing so I wanted to make a post regarding our little ears and how to protect them!

So, listen up!

The most common cause of deafness is noise-induced hearing loss. Your risk is related to how loud the noise is, how close you are to it and how long you're exposed to it.

Your hearing depends on hair cells in the inner ear that transmit energy from sound picked up by the outer ear to the brain, through converting it to electrical impulses. Loud noises blast and irreversibly damage these cells, leading to hearing loss and sometimes tinnitus. Tinnitus is an unpleasant condition in which you hear ringing, whooshing or high-pitched whining sounds, when continuous it is extremely distressing.

Any sound can damage your hearing, some more immediate than others. A sudden loud noise like gunfire or an airplane taking off from a runway at close range can cause irreversible damage immediately. Repeated exposure to loud noise causes a more gradual hearing loss, with voices sounding muffled and distorted. Many people think that being exposed to music is the only way your hearing can be impaired, but it really can be caused in any profession at anytime.

For example;

My dad was a driver for many years. He travelled across the world for an interior design company delivering all kinds of stuff. I used to travel with him when I was young and have been very fortunate to go to the places I have. He did this job for more than 15 years. Everyday he would be in a lorry doing hundreds of miles a day exposing his ears to all kinds of sounds on the road.

My family and I noticed that my dad’s hearing had got worse, especially after he retired. Naturally as you age your hearing will be lost, that’s part of the growing old part, but his hearing had taken a dramatic spiral more than it should have. I noticed that he couldn’t hear even the little things and he was beginning to get aggravated by sounds that were not there, that’s when I took him for a hearing test.

At first he was in denial, being the proud man that he is refusing to admit that something was wrong. When the test came back it showed that he had hearing damage, quite dramatically. I looked at his test results and saw that his right ear was worse than his left ear, that’s when it hit me, driving had done that to him. All those years he would drive with the window open, in all kinds of weather. The noises from the motorway, other vehicles driving past him, construction sites he would sit outside for long periods of time, the open air. All of this had affected his hearing, but because it wasn’t instant he never noticed.

As hearing technology has improved over the years, people with hearing loss are doing things that were previously thought impossible. My dad was given hearing aids to help the frequencies he had lost, since then his hearing has improved a lot and he is grateful that he can now experience having his hearing back.

Whether you are exposed to factory noise or listening to music, risk to hearing arises from a combination of how loud the sound is and how long you are exposed to it for.

The largest study into noise-induced hearing loss in musicians was published in 2014. Three million people were examined, including 2,227 professional musicians. They found that the musicians were about four times as likely to report a new noise-induced hearing loss compared to the general population.

Unknowing to many people, a rock concert can generate around 100db to 120db, which is as loud as a chainsaw. We‘ve all experienced painful ears after leaving a gig or a club; it's not uncommon to have pain in your ears, ringing or temporary deafness. It stops after a while and when we wake up in the morning we are back to normal, but if you go to enough loud concerts, combined with listening to an MP3 player full blast the rest of the time, your ears will be damaged.

If you're at a gig or any place where you can't hear someone talk to you from two metres away or your ears start hurting, then your hair cells are being damaged. You need to stand away from speakers, just take 10 minutes out from the music every hour and ideally wear earplugs, they will evenly reduce the level of sound.

I’m a sound engineer; I expose myself to sound all day everyday for long periods at a time. I will never prevent my own hearing loss, but I can help protect my ears as much as possible by looking after them. This goes for my whole team who work tirelessly making magic with records day in day out alongside me. I have to make sure that they are in a safe environment and they are looked after.

In the UK, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations sets limits for exposure to noise. The lowest action level is an exposure of 80 dBA averaged over a working day; about as loud as a heavily trafficked street. When this action level is exceeded, employers must provide information and training and make hearing protection available. When the upper action level of 85 dBA is exceeded, then employers need to take action to reduce the noise and hearing protection becomes compulsory. Of course music frequently exceeds 80-85 dBA, but what counts in assessing the risk to hearing is the average exposure. I have to make sure my team are offered the right hearing protection and are keeping in line with the working regulations.

I have a little table of noise levels that I have attached below. I refer to this table every time I train with my team on sound frequencies and decibels. It’s always puts in perspective how damaging some noise levels can be…


I have been asked these questions recently, that is why I decided to make this blog post so I can speak openly and share a little knowledge on what I know about hearing loss and hearing protection.

“What ear protection do I need at a gig?”



“I’m a musician and I don’t want to lose my hearing at a young age, can you help me with finding some hearing protection?”



“I want to wear earplugs at a show but I don’t want to look stupid...”



“Can you recommend any rehearsal earplugs? I’m in a heavy metal band and the space I record with my band is small and it’s so noisy”


I would recommend good-quality earplugs that reduce the overall level of sound but maintain an even spectral balance so that you can still hear everything clearly when you’re at a show, although the overall level is reduced it’s safer. If you don't want to wear earplugs when you're performing, consider wearing them when you're rehearsing, as well as at gigs. Disposable solid-foam earplugs won't give you this even balance and will adversely affect your enjoyment of the music. These kinds of plugs I recommend for traveling, long journeys, sleep or mediation. You can often find suitable generic ear plugs in the good musical instrument and equipment retailers. Beware that many musicians earplugs are available in different amounts of attenuation, the greater the number of dBs of attenuation, the better overall protection they offer.

If you’re really serious about ear protection and want a long-lasting solution, I recommend making an appointment with an audiologist. An audiologist will explain all the benefits of hearing protection and take a mould of your ear to create custom made earplugs to your precise specifications that will be comfortable to wear for long periods and easy to clean and look after. Custom made earplugs will cost more, but considering that hearing damage is irreversible, if you value your ears the cost should not be taken into account.

I have used ACS (Advanced Communication Solutions) in the past for generic earplugs and custom made earplugs. Please click the website link below to have a look through their products!

ACS

Or you could checkout my very own ear protectors!

They are available to purchase on my blog store, check us out! 


I want to make people aware that hearing loss is a fucking awful thing to suffer from and that you should take as much care as possible. If you’re at a gig and you have earplugs in, please don’t think you look stupid. It’s stupid neglecting your health for appearance. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a live sound environment, in a studio, in a car, at home, walking with your headphones in, just take the time to realise the underlining damage that can happen.

Even if you hate music picking up some earplugs is just as satisfying! Honest!

There are some really awesome hearing tests available online for free. So, if you’re curious as to how your hearing of frequencies is have a little go on the link below! Have a little fun!



Look after your ears kids, they are important!

Thank you for reading!

My love as always, 



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