Before you get going: this has been written by an occasional DJ and noise-induced tinnitus sufferer. It’s designed to act as a friendly reminder about how to avoid the condition, using information found on the internet. Please see a doctor if you’re worried about your hearing.
Alarm goes off. Snooze. Snooze again. Yawn. And you’re up. There’s that ringing sound again. Hopefully it’ll go away by tomorrow. An earworm distracts you. It’s a good one today, not some haunting commercial crap.
On the platform – your headphones go on. You scroll quickly as you search for that tune from Saturday night, the volume goes up.
A CASE OF BOOM DOOM
When music runs through your veins every spare moment is an opportunity to play your latest find or creation, but every time you blast bass through your headphones, or go out to a loud venue your hearing gets a little bit more damaged.
Over time, this can lead to noise-induced tinnitus – a condition that causes you to hear a continuous ringing, whooshing or high-pitched whining sound.
DOES THE DAMAGE
There are tiny, hair-like sensory cells within the cochlea (part of your inner ear). When you’re in an environment where there is loud noise, like a club or gig, the hair cells can become damaged. It’s believed that this disrupts the process of sound vibrations being changed into electrical signals, causing the ringing to occur.
THE RINGING GOES AWAY THOUGH, RIGHT?
Unfortunately, not always. Most people that seek immersive sounds will have noticed some ringing in their ears at some point, but usually after a short time it goes away. The experts call this ‘temporary threshold shift’. This is a warning sign telling you that your hearing has been put under stress. If you continue to expose yourself to high levels this can lead to permanent damage, meaning the day may come when the ringing doesn’t stop.
If you can’t have a conversation with someone who is about two metres away without shouting because there’s too much noise going on in the background, the impact of this environment could lead to permanent hearing damage. And if you listen to music (or any other sound) that’s higher than 89 decibels for more than five hours a week that can cause permanent hearing damage over time. To put that into perspective a normal conversation is about 60 decibels.
WEAR PLUGS IN THE CLUB
If you go to lots of gigs, regularly rave it up, or do the festival circuit then you’ll probably know that you should wear ear plugs. You can spend anything from a few quid to over a couple of hundred on them.
The cheap foam ones can make things sound a little muffled. Spend a bit more and you should be able to hear crisp sound, as well as everything your mate is rambling on about on the dance floor. You can even have earplugs custom made to fit you (obviously these are a bit more pricey though).
LOVE YOUR EARS
You’ll never crave complete silence more than when you can no longer experience it. At the moment there’s no cure for tinnitus and it’s still early days for treatments, so it’s worth getting into good listening habits now (easier said than done, but your 65-year-old self will love you for it).
And, if you feel like there’s something not quite right about your hearing, the best thing you can do is make an appointment with your GP. You could always take Action Against Hearing Loss’ online check too. This is designed to let you know if it’s worth having a full hearing test done.
GET THE MESSAGE HEARD
Thanks for taking the time to read Keep Your Vibes Alive. Please pass this on to music lovers and makers everywhere, to remind them to look after their precious hearing.
WANT TO CARRY ON READING UP?
Head to Action Against Hearing Loss’ website for more info about the causes of tinnitus, other than noise exposure. You can also browse through more in-depth insights on the condition, as well as hearing loss in general.
You may also find the British Tinnitus Association’s website pretty useful too.
A BIG shout out goes to both of these sources, as they helped inform Keep Your Vibes Alive.