I’ve been attending music concerts (rock concerts and other loud music) for over 35 years. Since pretty early on, I have known that listening to loud music could damage my hearing. Until much more recently, I didn’t do anything to protect my hearing during those concerts.
Our family’s awareness of the importance of hearing protection began about 15 years ago when my son, Jeremy, became a drummer.
First, my wife, Marcie, bought a huge container of cheap, disposable earplugs. You mush them between your fingers, push them into your ear, and they plug up your ear when they expand back to normal size.
Marcie and I started wearing them when we went to watch/listen to Jeremy’s high school rock band, but Jeremy hated wearing them because they muffled the sound. I could relate. I didn’t enjoy the distorted sound either.
Marcie then learned about musicians’ earplugs. She found an audiologist and had Jeremy custom-fitted for the plugs. The beauty of the musicians’ plugs is that they cut out the harmful sounds without creating that distorted, muffled sound that comes when you normally plug up your ears. Jeremy wears the musicians’ plugs and they are one of the best investments we have made.
Meanwhile, I’ve been struggling with how to protect my own hearing. Someone once told me that if you get into bed after a rock concert and your ears are ringing, you have damaged your hearing. I certainly had heard the ringing after virtually every concert I had been to. I imagine many of you reading this have had a similar experience.
When I went to concerts and didn’t plug my ears, I knew it wasn’t a good thing and yet I hated the distorted, muffled sound of the cheap, disposable plugs.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of it, but earlier this year it occurred to me to buy musicians’ plugs for myself.
Having just attended my first concert with my new plugs (my son’s college rock band, BODYSHAKES), I am now a raving fan of musicians’ plugs for anyone who, like myself, likes to attend rock concerts, or any other loud, live music shows. The music sounded great and when I went to bed after the show I realized that, for the first time I could remember, I didn’t have ringing in my ears.
I want to note that these custom-fitted plugs were not cheap. They were $200 all-in. The expense was easily justified by the benefit. I also figured I would take the $200 from my rock concert budget for 2013. Makes sense to me.
A Baseline Hearing Test
I did one other thing while I was visiting the audiologist. I had a hearing test. I was fortunate to learn that my hearing is okay so far. He said that I have a slight loss of sensitivity, but not hearing impairment.
In addition to wondering if I had damaged my hearing from all those loud concerts, Marcie and I often disagree about the volume of music in the car and she had wondered if my “need” for higher volume was due to hearing loss on my part. The audiologist assured me that in my case it was just a matter of preference.
I also know (having had it pointed out to me many times) that I often speak loudly. I wondered if that meant anything about my hearing and the audiologist assured me that it did not; that it was instead reflective of the enthusiasm and passion that I have for whatever subject I am talking about at a given time.
I also learned something very interesting about hearing loss. Having hearing loss and not doing anything about it hastens the onset of dementia! Hearing loss doesn’t cause dementia, but can bring it on years sooner. Audiologist Gary Hilt (who will happily take your calls and questions at 201-796-3131) explained to me that when one’s hearing is impaired, the cognitive system struggles to capture the auditory images, leaving less reserve for other mental needs. Wow! Good to know how important it is for your overall health to do whatever you can to help protect and repair your hearing.
What are your experiences with your hearing? Join the conversation with your comments…