If you're a musician or concertgoer, you've probably experienced some form of listener fatigue from exposure to prolonged loud noises, also known as tinnitus.
It's not a pleasant experience to have your ears ringing or hearing muffled, but taking a break from the noise isn't always possible. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks that can come in handy to help you avoid this phenomenon successfully.
While there is still a lot of mystery in the science world surrounding the technical causes of listener fatigue, we do know that the irritation in your ear is caused by stereocilia or hair-like cells that get damaged by loud or prolonged noise.
This can lead to hearing loss, which causes the brain to work harder to process the same information, leading to stress and, ultimately, fatigue.
Listener fatigue can bring about tiredness, pain, and loss of sensitivity, but there are ways to avoid it. If you spend long studio nights or like to go to concerts that have loud noises all around you with speaker systems, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
According to the World Health Organization, the growing rates of hearing loss across the globe need to be fixed with safer listening strategies for the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in recreational settings.
How can we enjoy listening to loud music but keep our ears healthy at the same time? The dilemma is true for music consumers and music creators alike.
When it comes to dampening sound, the easiest (although a bit overdramatic) way is using foam earplugs.
Although they may block out some of the noise at a concert, they can make your voice sound louder and clearer than it actually is. This can make it difficult to hear other instruments, depending on how loud they are.
In some cases, if the music is extremely loud and dangerous, you might still be able to hear it well enough over the sound of your own voice to stay in tune.
But for singing with foam earplugs, it's important to find ones with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of less than 30 decibels.
If the NRR is too high, say, above 30 dB, the earplugs may reduce the sound of the music around you too much, which can throw off your singing and make it sound out of tune with the instrumentation.
One trick you can try is to use them but not insert them as deeply into your ear as you normally would.
For musicians and festival-goers who are constantly surrounded by loud music, noise-canceling earplugs have become a go-to solution.
These earplugs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) closer to 25, making it easier to enjoy the noise while still protecting your ears.
If you're a singer, these are great to have on hand for rehearsals and performances. They offer a much better look and feel than traditional foam earplugs, and they are often hard to see unless you're up close to someone wearing them.
Additionally, they come in different sizes that can mold to your ear for maximum comfort.
While they may cost a bit more than foam earplugs, they are reusable and definitely worth the investment if you want to protect your hearing without sacrificing the quality of the sound.
Related Post: Best Earplugs And Protection For Musicians
Sound is commonly measured by decibels, also known as dB. If you want to make sure you aren't doing any damage to your eardrums, try to keep your dB levels under a certain amount. This will help your health in the long run.
A whispered tone is around 30 dB, and an average spoken voice level is about 60 dB. On the higher end, a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. A dog's bark is said to be too loud for humans at around 100 dB+.
With headphones or loudspeakers at a concert, we often go too far with our music levels and hit over 100 dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may cause damage to your hearing.
Noises over 120 dB can do damage immediately. Download a mobile decibel-reading app, like Sound Level Meter or Decibel Meter, to measure decibels.
You can often avoid extreme levels of ear damage at concerts by making sure you aren't standing or seated right next to one of the loudspeakers. While the whole spot will be loud, right by a speaker will really damage your ear drums.
If you're experiencing this type of fatigue time after time, consider talking to your doctor about it. You may be in need of a hearing aid that can help you dramatically while you work throughout your day while listening to deafening noises.
Hearing aids help people increase volume if needed, but they can also reduce loud noises around you and prevent tinnitus.
Related Post: What To Bring To A Concert (And What Not To Bring!)
Unfortunately, there are no current medications on the market that can help relieve you from your listener fatigue. There also haven't been any herbs or natural remedy products that people have found useful, but all hope isn't lost.
There are a few tips I want to share for those looking to get immediate relief since there are some reports of relief from those who have thought outside of the box.
The most effective method I've seen in my research is using white noise to mask the ringing in your ear after suffering from listener fatigue. This white noise is also used in hearing aid products and can be found easily with an app or Youtube.
Some people who had ringing in their ears after prolonged loud noise damage have also reported that meditation provided immediate relief.
More than just distracting you from the sound, meditation can help provide you relief from the stress that the constant ringing and irritation can cause you.
Many people have reported that painkillers like aspirin do not help with tinnitus. They've actually reported that it does nothing but make the ringing more noticeable, so skip that idea if you thought that might help you.
Tinnitus is actually a well-known side effect of taking painkillers, and although some have said that it temporarily helps, it irritates your symptoms more in the long run.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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