It doesn’t seem surprising that a recent study published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals professional musicians to be more susceptible to induced hearing loss than the general public. In fact, the findings conclude professional musicians to be more than 57% more likely to develop tinnitus than the general public. Tinnitus is a consistent high-pitched frequency within the ear.

The data was drawn from three statutory health insurance providers containing the details of seven million German citizens between 2004 and 2008. Around 2,227 professional musicians were within the survey pool and about 284,000 cases of hearing loss were registered within the database. Slightly more of these cases involved men.

The authors of this study recognize that repeated long term exposure to industrial noise can be clearly linked to hearing damage, including the inability to hear the full spectrum of sound. Interestingly enough, long term exposure to music has the effect of hearing sensitivity, giving the listener a more keen ear. While this can be a positive attribute, researchers say that the positives do not outweigh the potential damage caused by overexposure to loud music.

“Our data suggest that in professional musicians, the risk of music induced hearing loss outweigh the potential benefits for hearing ability, as reported by [other researchers],” writes the authors.

The researchers conclude that because of the severity their results showed, the occupational hazards of a professional musician should be of a high public importance. Professional musicians should be provided with protective in-ear devices, despite the manner of music they play. Anytime sound amplifiers are being used, the risk of induced hearing loss is great. Also, sound shields should be installed within the different sections of an orchestra in order to buffer unnecessary and potentially damaging volume levels.

Source: Science Daily

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