Got a question about hearing damage? Want some personal attention?
Crabby's our on-site expert. She'll listen to anyone, but
please keep your questions reasonable. She can get temperamental
and sometimes we have to calm her down...
that my hearing hadn't fully recovered from all of the blockage
I've been playing drums for six years now, and (you'll be
pleased to hear), quickly realised that I should wear earplugs
during gigging and practise. I'm sure that this has been of
a huge benefit, but I have two questions to which I've always
wanted the answers. It has been recognised that I have very,
very good hearing (with a sound-engineering career in the
pipeline), but after a bad case of the flu, and terrible hearing
de-generation - to which I didn't seek medical advice - I
became a bit paranoid that my hearing hadn't fully recovered
from all of the blockage. About two months later I seemed
to re-gain my ability to hear very slight acoustic presence,
but I am aware of a noise when in a totally silent room, it
is increbibly quiet, but is there. I wanted to know if what
I'm hearing could just be, I don't know, my heart (sounds
strange, but that's what it's like), or should I hear absolutely
nothing at all? The other thing is that I'm fed up with the
really bad attenuation properties of foam earplugs. After
working in a studio recently with proper mnitoring, I realised
how much I've been missing out. Unfortunately, as fantastic
as the products are that I've seen you recommend, I live in
the UK and I'm not entirely sure where to go. I can get the
vented Doc Pro Plugs from my local drum shop, but wonder how
effective they really are, since they're not proper custom
Thanks for your help, JamesT.
I would continue to seek medical attention for your ears
being plugged up. The soft t sound that you're hearing is
called tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of varies medical conditions.
Your physician is the most appropriate professional to inquire
about the tinnitus. I'm glad to hear you're proactive using
hearing protection! Keep it up. The best quality sounding
ear plugs, are the custom "musician" ear plugs. These are
custom made by an audiologist. Check the website to see who
is partnerd with us in the UK. The UK partner may be able
to be of service to you.
Crabby on Dangerous Decibels at Dance Clubs and Raves!
Two questions that have been bugging me ...
[PC] First, I've heard that deep bass music - i.e. at clubs/raves
- is focused around 63 Hz, below the frequency range considered
I've also read some epi research out of France suggesting
clubgoers are at much lower risk of hearing loss than those
attending rock concerts or listening to PCP (personal cassette
recorders, that is). [cite: Meyer-Bisch C. "Epidemiological
evaluation of hearing damage related to strongly amplified
music (personal cassette players, discotheques, rock concerts)-high-definition
audiometric survey on 1364 subjects." Audiology 1996 May-Jun;35(3):121-42].
[Crabby] False. It's not the frequency that damaging, it's
the intensity .
[PC] Does all this mean clubs/raves are relatively safe?
[Crabby] No. Any sound above 85 dB, is considered potentially
at risk for hearing loss. Raves are typically outdoors; therefore,
there are no walls to cause reverberation of sound. This is
good, but if the volume is above 85 dB, your hearing is still
[PC] Or is there other research concluding that the frequency
of the music is irrelevant? Most of the research I've found
so far is on broadband noise and rock - so it's seemed tough
to make a judgment. I'd be grateful if you could give article
[Crabby] I would search the Internet for articles regarding
the effects of noise on hearing.
[PC] Second, can the occlusion effect be damaging? That is,
if you're listening to low frequency music, and you're wearing
a foam industrial plug, does the "trapped" noise cause more
harm than the plug reduces? The occlusion effect doesn't case
[Crabby] What can still occur, with hearing protection, is
hearing damage due to bone conduction. If the music is loud
enough, the sound will conduct through the body, vibrating
your bones, which can also damage hearing.
[PC]Again, citations would be great.
[Crabby]Check out: http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/Document/
Please read survey article on dance clubs and raves "Dangerous
Decibels Dancing Until Deaf" by Ed Walsh on HEARNET.com
More DJ's and Ravers are contacting H.E.A.R. with hearing
loss and tinnitus concerns.
Listened to loud music since
I was 13.
I have listened to loud music since I was 13. I am now in my late 30's.
I have now been experiencing a slight hearing loss in the right ear and
have swelling behind the ear. I have called my doctor and he wants to
do a CATSCAN? Any suggestions? thank you :)
I would follow the recommendations of your doctor. I would also have
a hearing evaluation.
Subject: Concerts-Sound Level
I think you're doing wonderful work and I'm so glad such a thing exists.
I myself am a musician suffering from hearing damage. I hadn't been
playing very long and was just getting going when I attended an unbelievably
loud concert. I had my first bout of tinnitus afterward and sensitivity
to sound in my right ear. I was in my last week of music school when it
I'd always been diligent about wearing earplugs
for practice but for some reason didn't at this concert even though I
new it was way too loud. The symptoms seemed to subside, but when I
returned home from school they gradually reappeared as I was exposed to loud
noise with earplugs. The worst was the last time I rehearsed with this
band. That was over a year ago and I have not been able to play since.
I don't have significant hearing loss but what's been affecting me most
is Hyperacusis, and well my chronic tinnitus is affected by any ambient
noise. The hyperacusis has prevented me from working at any
occupation. The whole thing has severely affected my life and been very
heartbreaking which I'm sure you can understand.
I think it would be a good idea to talk more about Hyperacusis on your
website because I think it is even more debilitating than tinnitus (at
least in my case) and would be good incentive for people to protect
their hearing. Nobody would want this.
I think is also important to sets that significant damage can happen
from just one really loud exposure. I previously understood the need to
protect my hearing but at that one concert I was acting a little crazy
and I guess I figured one concert couldn't do that much harm. I wasn't
even near the stage. It was a really loud show and it was in a bar.
This brings me to the purpose of this E-Mail. Why did it have to be
so loud. It happened in a bar in Los Angeles. I'm surprised a health conscious
state like California doesn't have some laws in place about volume. Even
if you're wearing ear plugs, the most they protect your ears is 29 db.
If the concert is 120 dB you're still going to be damaging your ears after
a half an hour. And I'm sure the concert I was at was more than 120 dB
I think there is one province in Canada that has something like that in
place. I want to look into it happening in my province and nationwide
as well, although I'm unsure of where to begin. I think it is important
for concert venues as well as performers to be involved in addressing
this matter. How loud does music have to be to be enjoyed? Anyways, I'm
curious to know if there is any movement to this effect happening, and
how I might get involved.
Thanks. And thanks again for all that your doing regarding hearing and
Thank you for sharing your email. Hyperacusisis (over sensitivity to loud sounds)
is a very serious problem among musicians and others with noise induced
hearing damage. It's difficult for others to understandwhat that person
is going through when seemingly normal sounds like running water, traffic
and music hurts your ears. It can turn your world up side down.
As you may know, the maximum exposure time for unprotected ears per day
is 8 hours at 90 dB according to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) guidelines. For every 5 dB increase in volume, the maximum exposure
time is cut in half.
95 dB - 4 hours
100 dB - 2 hours
110 dB - 30 minutes
120 dB 7.5 minutes
Many hearing professionals believe that these permissible levels are still
too high for hearing safety.
In the US Noise Abatement Laws are in place for nuisance complaints such
as airport noise, etc. At the Federal level, the funding to enforce the
complaints was cut in the 1980's. Each state has their own laws and funding
policies which vary from State to State. By contacting your local representative
you can find out more about the noise abatement laws for your city or
Noise Abatement is difficult to enforce, especially if you are paying
to go into an establishment to hear loud music. The police respond to
loud noise complaints if neighbors have made a complaint in the area or,
it is past curfew. You may talk to the owner of the club, the sound engineer
or, the band and ask them to play at lower levels. Find out if they utilize
room acoustics. Let them know that they are losing more people by playing
too loudly and making it uncomfortable for the rest of the audience to
enjoy the music. EXCESSIVE NOISE LEVEL CAN DAMAGE HEARING!!!
It would be great if everyone wouldn't play so loud. But, that is something
that may be out of your control. So the next best thing is to protect
yourself to avoid hearing damage. Or, avoid those loud clubs all together
and go to venues that play at safer sound levels.
One way you can help H.E.A.R. get our message to others is
to let them know about our web site (www.hearnet.com). Thank
you for sharing and for your support of H.E.A.R. Check out
www.nonoise.org for info
on the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for more ideas on how
to fight noise pollution.
On Saturday, I decided to bring my Radio Shack catalog no.
33-2055 digital sound level meter with me for a typical evening
of rock'n'roll. This is normally used with the "default"
settings upon power-up: C-weighting, fast response, average
It was not surprising to find readings of 112dB in and immediately
around the "stage" area while the Sonny Kenn Band
was playing at the Cove, a nice bar in Hazlet NJ. (It was
surprising to my good friend George, who said, "this
can't possibly be accurate!"). What *was* surprising
was the SPLs measured in my car (Volvo 850 with leather interior),
with and without music blasting. Typical driving, with windows
closed: 82dB. Add a Bad Company tape, at comfortable levels:
86dB! Turn it up a little more: 90-92dB! Imagine, I get at
least an hour of such exposure every day. No wonder I have
And there's more: Being that I'm not a morning person, but
must (for now) deal with a day job, the *most important* speakers
in my place is the nasty little pair of Radio Shack "Minimus-7-Pro"
in my bathroom. (How *else* could I possibly ever get motivated
and ready for work every morning?) This morning I measured
a good 90dB with the shower running and King's X blasting.
<sigh> And of course, I have *at least* one pair of
speakers in< *every* room in my place! Yes, the kitchen and
the bedrooms included! The morning is, by necessity, a *very
loud* time in my place.
The bottom line is that rock'n'roll is a way of life, but
it definitely pays to always be conscious of the ambient levels,
and not be "abusive." As with anything, always consider
the benefits as well as the risks, and make balanced decisions
Back to the Saturday evening: My friends are all completely
aware that I wear hearing protection at all times while the
band plays. I do believe that I was the *only* person in the
entire place wearing ear plugs. (I didn't notice the bartenders
or bouncers wearing any.) I'll never know how all these people
can stand the actual physical pain at 112dB, and still have
fun. <sigh> One thing is for sure: The dB meter, and
the levels indicated, caught a lot of attention. Maybe I should
keep it in my car along with all the earplugs. :-)
Hope you found this very interesting. Now I gotta' [to quote
a line from one of the SKB's songs] "get back to work!"
Peace, Love, Rock'N'Roll,
Thank you for sharing with us. You know we are too loud.
If more people would think about their most important musical
instrument maybe they would realize that it's their ears!-
Subject: To Play or Not to Play
Dear Sir or Madame Crabby,
I have tinnitus and have seen doctors and specialists and it is probably
from loud music.
I have given my heart, soul, and energy into rock for a long time now
and was on the verge of creating a great project. Do musicians earplugs
really prevent all of the possible damage to the ears due to loud music?
Even the pro molders that I spoke to seem to try to go around the answer.
Even though I have given my all to rock, I would give it all up to prevent
the tinnitus from worsening. Is the best advice just to quit playing hard
The most effective method to prevent hearing loss due to
loud music is to obstain from it. However, that is not a realistic
approach. Ear plugs help tremendously to reduce the loudness.
Earplugs do not prevent the possible onset of hearing loss,
but the earplugs have the potential to greatly reduce the
amount of damage.
Subject: Which Plugs for a Drummer?
I'm a 35 year old drummer. My hearing has been recently tested and
I have a borderline slight loss at 3.5k. I've been using foam (30db)
plugs most of the time but not when I was a teen. I notice that if I listen
to even medium loud music (90-95db) now for more that 15 minutes I have<
ringing that lasts for 30-60 minutes afterwards . Is this normal?
Also, the foam plugs I use when playing drums suck, so I'd like to finally get some
linear sound suppression plugs. Which would be best for me for
when I play the drums?
thanks in advance
I recommend that you inquire about the Musician Earplugs, with the maximum
attenuation, from your audiologist. This will help to protect your hearing
as well as allow you to hear adequately while playing the drums.
The ringing, tinnitus, is very subjective from one person to the next.
Tinnitus suggests that you're irritating the ears. Therefore, hearing
protection is very important to reduce the noise level so that tinnitus
will less likely occur. If used properly, foam plugs provide the maximum
Subject: Movie Theatre Sound
I wondered if you had any data on the db's in movie theaters. The movies I have
seen lately hurt my ears. I have tried over the counter earplugs, but find them uncomfortable.
My girl friend uses the head sets that people use at rifle ranges and finds them
not good enough. When I ask the management of these theaters to turn down the sound they
ignore me. I would like to know what you charge for your custom ear plugs. I recently
had my hearing tested and there has been some
damage. I am also interested in whether you have any data on tv volume. Especially
the sound boosts that come during commercials.
Thank you in advance.
I do not know what the sound level is in movie theaters, but I do know
sound level varies tremendously. You could ask the manager what the level
is, or if the theater has a maximum level. If management does not know,
you could bring a sound level meter into the theater and measure the sound
I would consult with an audiologist as to which hearing protection is
most suitable for you needs. TV commercials are definitely louder than
the program--usually around 10 dB Why? I do not know. (Probably to draw
your attention to the ad, since that's what advertisements are for.--ed.)
Subject: Aerobic Exercise Classes
I am an exercise instructor looking for information on safe music volume levels
during aerobic classes. I read some of the info on rock concerts and loud music,
but am curious as to the risk an exerciser takes by attending classes on a regular
basis. The average person in our club probably
exercises 3-5 times a week and attends classes that are 45 minutes to 1 hour long.
Does the frequency they attend and/or the length of the class affect the safe decibel
levels they are able to tolerate?? For example, is 100 decibels harmful for 2 hours
but okay for 1 hour?? (Or is the damage done just half as much?).
I would appreciate
any information you could send me on this subject so we can maintain a safe, yet
motivating, atmosphere for our health conscious members.
The OHSA standard for noise/music states that any sounds above 90 dB
is considered damaging to hearing. Many audiologists believe that noise
above 85 dB is potentially damaging. The longer the exposure, the greater
chance of possibly acquiring a hearing loss over time. I recommend earplugs
for those exposed to this type of environment on a regular basis. I attend
aerobics faithfully and use my plugs faithfully. You could purchase an
inexpensive sound level meter from Radio Shack and measure the noise level.
Then you could set the volume at a non-damaging level.
Subject: Airplanes and Hearing Loss
I think I've read somewhere that airplanes had something to do with hearing loss
or tinnitus. This is a vague memory, so it might be wrong. I'm flying to Europe next
week, so I'd like to know if my information is right. If so,what precautions would
you recommend? Thanks in advance.
Yes, being in a plane, on a regular basis, such as a pilot, could experience
hearing loss over time. Just taking one flight should not be detrimental
to your hearing. However, if you're not comfortable with that, please
wear ear plugs during the flight.
I would like to know if there are any products out there that can
block noise entirely. I sleep days and wake up to noises frequently. I would
appreciate a response. Thank You.
There is nothing that will completely block out all noise. Custom ear
plugs (for sleeping) should be available from your local audiologist.I
think this will greatly improve you situation for a good sound sleep!
I have ringing in my ears from going to a concert, (sorry,
I didn't wear ear plugs). I have had the ringing for about
a day after the concert. It's not loud, but it is noticeably
there. It's mainly in my left ear, (the ear closest to the
speaker). How long does this usually last? When should I start
worrying? Usually after a concert my ears will ring for only
a couple hours after the show. Just some background on me:
I am 23 years old, I go to a couple shows a year, this is
my first in almost a year. I sporadically wear ear plugs when
I go to shows. I usually wear them during the opening bands
music in between bands, but always take them out for the band
I came to see.
If the tinnitus does not go away, decrease, or increases,
I recommend you seek otologic consultation. It may take longer
this time for the tinnitus to subside, but then, it may not.
Therefore, the medical attention is warranted.
Is there a cure for this? I have had this ringing in my ears for nearly 1 year.
Is there anything that
can be done?
There is no cure, but there are treatments that may control the tinnitus
for you. It is also very important to wear hearing protection when exposed
to loud decibel levels. Lowering stress levels, healthy lifestyle and
avoidance of loud noise can help contribute to reducing your tinnitus
symptoms. If tinnitus persists see your audiologist or ear doctor, or
contact the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) at (503) 248-9965 for
more information. Check out these links for more info on the subject.
Subject: Car Audio Enthusiast
I'm involved in a running battle with my 16 year old son about the stereo
system in his car -- highly amplified with huge subwoofers (boom car??).
He bought the system with his own, earned money. I took the subwoofers
out -- the response to that was awesome -- I told him that once I (we)
had the opportunity to look over some studies regarding the potential
for permanent hearing damage then we (I) would decide whether he could
put the system back together again.
If you could provide us with any material or your findings as to whether
or not systems like this can ever be safely used, I would appreciate it.
Obviously, I have no legitimate opinion as to the safety of the system,
so some expert input would help. My son is also more likely to listen
to you than to me. I think that systems like my son's are major nuisances
(but my father thought the exhaust system on my car was idiotic too),
however, if there is a way to have the system with no risk to his hearing,
I'll let him put it back together.
Thanks for your help,
This is a tough one--regarding teenagers and music...
Sound above 90 dB is considered potentially damaging to one's hearing.
You may want to purchase an inexpensive sound level meter from Radio Shack.
This instrument will accurately read the loudness level. This way, you'll
be able to know what volume is too loud.
I am a car audio enthusiast the SPL (sound pressure level)
of my specific vehicle is 148.6db. That reading is produced
at 60Hz. I have friends whose car stereo systems range from
140.8db to 156.9db at various Hz levels between 45 and 90hz.
My question is, Is there any truth to the story that most
hearing damage caused by high hertz levels above 5000hz and
the damage incurred from low level tones is minor if at all
noticeable? I have personal experienced a temporary dulling
of hearing that fades within 30 minutes usually, as if my
ears just adjusted to deal with high SPL and then adjusted
back when it wasn't loud any more. Much like walking inside
on a bright day and it takes a minute to adjust your eyes
to the lower light intensity. Any feedback would be greatly
PS Hearing protection is required for use at competitions.
You and your friends are putting your ears at great risk!! It's the
intensity of the sound not necessarily the frequency that is damaging.
Levels of 140 dB is equivalent to airplanes taking off! Why subject your
ears to that insane level??
You are very fortunate that your hearing sensitivity returns to "normal"
in 30 minutes. I would not be surprised if this changes to a permanent
hearing loss over time, with that level of exposure. Turn it down!!
I have always enjoyed to not only listening to music but
feeling the bass of my music. Does listening to the lowest
frequencies of bass (20-60 Hz) cause much hearing damage?
If so, how long will it take to cause damage?
Also, what frequencies will this hearing loss cause? Can bass only damage your
low-frequency hearing, or does it damage higher-frequency hearing too? I thank you
sincerely for your time and attention.
Noise/music, of any frequency, when loud enough, is damaging to your
hearing. Sound levels above 90 dB are considered damaging and warrant
Loud sounds damage your high frequency hearing first. Depending on the
exposure and duration of the sound, the hearing loss can progress to the
There is a time limit as to when hearing loss will occur due to noise.
It can happen with the first loud exposure, or it can develop gradually
over time. The loss is usually permanent as well.
Subject: Ringing Ears
I'm a drummer (yikes) who has spent many years in high volume situations,
and although I don't seem to have suffered noticeable hearing loss, I've
been very concerned about the loud(er) ringing in my ears after a gig.
I've just invested in a pair of custom molded earplugs that seem to compare to
(I live in South Africa and only managed to locate one audiologist dealing with hearing
protection as opposed to hearing reinforcement), and are called Noise-clippers. Anyway,
the point is I still experience a louder ringing post gig, if perhaps less than before.
Is this normal, andwhat is the actual cause of this ringing, and if I'm experiencing
this am I putting my hearing at risk? Is this ringing a mild form of tinnitus?
a drummer (yikes)
Ringing is tinnitus. You are irritating your ears and increasing the
likelihood of acquiring hearing loss around loud noise with tinnitus being
a side effect of this noise exposure. Wear hearing protection when around
Subject: Loud Music
hello, I am in a band and after we play I get that loud screeching in
my ears. I have also been to the doctor many times saying that I think
I have an ear infection and they say its kind of pink in there and they
give me medicine...and sometime they say its probably ear wax buildup
because you have lots of it. I am scared because my ears bother me alit,
but this happens a lot and before I was in the band. I think it started
when I was in 7th grade. I am in 10th grade now, because I remember sticking
a q-tip too far in my ear and not being able to hear in my left ear for
like a month...but then it just came back....now do you think now that
I am exposed to loud music that my hearing is getting messed up, because
of that damage with the q-tip? I need to get ear plugs too, what kind
should I Gen. want to get pre-made ones, what decibel should I get? please
write back soon! its really important.
Did you have your ears evaluated by an ear doctor or regular doctor?
You should consult with a ear doctor. They will be able to tell you if
you have any damage to your ear drum, etc. I recommend that you be fit
with custom musicians' ear plugs by an audiologist or try ER20 ready fit
ear plugs. They are pre made and reduce the decibel by 12 dB. Foam plugs
are good also protection but, will block out the high frequencies more.