You might already have heard of tinnitus through somebody who suffers from it. Some people hear constant background noise when in fact there’s no actual sound. They’re generally high-pitched whistles. They might be due to a number of different conditions but in music the frequent cause is long exposure to overly loud volumes. Top guitar players such as Neil Young, Jeff Beck or Eric Clapton suffer from them. There’s three things you need to know:
- tinnitus can happen to anybody, and only a single extreme exposure can become a handicap for the rest of your life,
- everybody’s sensitivity to noise is different and it is important to listen to one’s body rather than friends at the same concert or rehearsal (for instance),
- alcohol or drugs can mess with the body’s alarm mechanisms without us knowing it on the spot, and cause a lot of damage.
To protect your ears, you should one of the following types of earplugs:
- disposable earplugs: those are bright-colored, cylinder-shaped pieces of foam you’ve probably already seen before (example)
- pre-shaped earplugs: more discreet, those are available in different sizes and provide a better protection at an affordable price (example)
- custom earplugs: based on your own ear’s shape, those are the most effective.
Once you’ve chosen earplugs and bought them, it is naturally necessary to get into the habit of wearing them when the volume gets high. It is therefore important to think about taking them before going to an event. It is also recommended to wear them throughout the event rather than only at the end when you’re feeling tired, because they might not be as helfpul at that point. Finally, it is a bad idea to remove them before the volume is lower.
I would like to end on a positive note. Despite the hardship that people go through when they first have to deal with hearing damage, in a lot of cases people end up simply getting used to tinnitus, to a point where they don’t find it a major inconvenience anymore. It might even go away in certain cases. Protect your hearing as much as you can while can. But if an accident happens, then try to not dwell on it too much.