There is no cure for tinnitus, which can be especially distressing if you’re a musician and rely on your ears to do your job. It may take time to come to terms with your condition, but there are steps you can take to protect your hearing and continue pursuing your passion.
What Causes Tinnitus in Musicians?
This sometimes debilitating condition is usually associated with hearing loss, to which musicians are no strangers. Damage to the delicate hair cells of the inner ears, or cilia, can create a ringing, humming or buzzing sound that is only perceived by the affected individual.
Musicians may suffer from tinnitus that’s caused by exposure to loud sounds or noise-induced hearing loss. While up to 15% of the general population has tinnitus, roughly 30% to 50% of musicians experience symptoms, and it’s no wonder.
The nature of a musician’s livelihood puts them at an increased risk for noise exposure from instruments, amps, audio feedback, shouting and other sounds unique to the music industry.
The Physical and Mental Effects of Tinnitus
Facing a lifetime of ringing ears is daunting, especially for musicians. Because listening is part of your trade, you’re likely hypersensitive to sounds, which gives you a heightened perception of your tinnitus.
Symptoms may be constant, irregular or influenced by certain sounds and tones. However it presents itself, tinnitus has physical and emotional side effects, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Problems sleeping
- Poor concentration
How Musicians Can Protect Their Hearing
Identify trigger sounds: Your tinnitus may be affected by specific sounds and pitches, so it’s important to track your daily symptoms to identify the source of your discomfort.
Custom hearing protection: You can buy cheap, disposable earplugs at any drugstore, but custom musician’s earplugs will protect your hearing without obscuring important sounds.
Give your ears a break: Find time during rehearsal, recording sessions and performances to step away from loud sounds and give your ears a rest. Limiting your exposure will protect hair cells from further damage.
Ask about hearing aids: An audiologist can prescribe hearing aids that come with unique programming intended for listening to music. Some hearing devices also offer masking settings that ease tinnitus symptoms.
Famous Musicians with Tinnitus
- Eddie Vedder
- Brian Johnson
- Ozzy Osborne
- Phil Collins
- Neil Young
- Barbra Streisand
- Pete Townsend
- Chris Martin
Schedule an appointment at Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte, and we’ll set you up with a pair of custom musician’s earplugs, so you can keep doing what you love.