Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 13th 2014 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Whether playing in a symphony orchestra or a
rock concert, professional musicians may have almost
four times the risk of hearing loss as their audience
does, according to a new study.
Based on medical records, German researchers found
the workplace hazard of hearing damage for musicians,
conductors and others in involved in musical per-
formance is significant enough to warrant protective
"I have heard many, many famous musicians say
that they would give back all of their success if the
ringing in the ears and hearing loss would improve,"
said Rick Friedman, a professor of otolaryngology and
neurosurgery at the USC Keck School of Medicine in
Hearing-related complaints are common among
the many musicians he sees in the clinic, Friedman,
who was not involved in the new study, told Reuters
Tania Schink at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention
Research and Epidemiology-BIPS in Bremen, and her
colleagues looked at data from three German insurance
agencies to compare diagnosed hearing problems
among musicians and the general population.
Of the more than 3.3 million people ages 18 to 66
insured by the companies between 2004 and 2008,
more than 2,000 were identified as professional musi-
cians by federal employment data.
Of the 2,227 musicians in the study, 238 had some
type of hearing loss. Their issues included hearing loss
caused by noise, ringing in the ears and hearing dif-
ficulties due to problems in the inner ear or in the
About 280,000 of the 3.3 million non-musicians
also suffered from a loss of hearing.
Overall, the musicians were 1.45 times as likely as
non-musicians to have any type of hearing problem.
But they were 3.6 times more likely to have noise-
induced hearing loss, which was also the most common
problem they reported.
Schink s team writes in the British medical journal
BMJ that noise-induced hearing loss---which is the
kind also suffered by workers in heavy industry or
other jobs that regularly expose people to high decibel
levels---is influenced by several factors.
For musicians, these include the number of years
of exposure, whether they play amplified instruments
and for orchestra musicians, their position in the
orchestra relative to other players.
"Given the number of professional musicians and
the severity of the outcome, leading to occupational
disability and severe loss of quality of life, hearing loss
in professional musicians is of high public health
importance," they write.
"Our data provide evidence of the need for prevention
measures," such as special ear plugs and sound-pro-
tecting shields between the sections of an orchestra,
Hearing loss can affect recreational musicians as
well, Friedman points out. Even attending a loud
concert or listening to music full-blast with headphones
on can cause damage, he said.
"Research has shown that teenagers are starting to
show signs of hearing loss due to loud music, whether
(from) devices or concerts," he said.
Ringing in the ears after loud noise is a bad sign,
he said. But even after hearing goes back to normal,
hearing loss---which first affects higher-pitched sound---
can continue to progress.
"The damage may be silent. It accumulates over
time as the (nerve or brain cells) die," Friedman said.
For people concerned about protecting their hearing,
musician-grade earplugs are a good place to start,
Friedman said. They preserve sound quality but lower
These preventive measures should be taken starting
early on, when the exposure to loud music begins, he
adds. That s a point that is sometimes difficult to drive
home among young music enthusiasts.
"Playing loud music consistently without any hearing
protection is basically a death sentence for the ear,"
SOURCE: bit.ly/1nt2d24 BMJ online April 30,
Even beautiful music may
pose hearing-loss risk to pros
Musicians were 3.6 times more likely to have noise-induced hearing loss, which
was also the most common problem they reported. SOURCE: ITHACAAUDIO.COM
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