A lot of us take our ears for granted. We got out partying, listen to loud music and generally do not maintain them well. Once you lose your hearing, it can almost never be restored. Well, at least not completely. Let me explain a little more in detail.
The inner ear is a very delicate system, and though it can take a lot of abuse, you have to know where to draw the line. I’ve been to several parties and concerts in my teen years and early 20s, stood right next to the speakers and felt absolutely fine. But I realised that this doesn’t last forever when I turned 27, as my ears wouldn’t stop ringing after this particular concert I went for. After I visited the ENT specialist, he told me that me ear drum was quite badly swollen. Ever since that day, I’ve always tried to use some form of ear protection or the other when I’m on stage, at the practice pad or simply when watching a band in action.
Don't expose yourself to high decibel levels for long periods of time
The inner ear has these fibre-like hair cells called stereocelia and each of them responds to a particular frequency. They are very sensitive, and if exposed to extremely loud sounds over a period of time, will cease to work. The threshold for pain for the human ear is 120 dBSPL and most concerts and clubs play music way louder than this. Most people don’t know these simple facts and repeatedly ignore them. Little do they know that they will be prone to some pretty serious ear damage in the long run, which can be permanent.
There are plenty of professionals I know that have no choice but to be surrounded by sound all day. They are sound engineers, musicians, DJs, etc. A lot of them couldn’t care less about ear protection, but some of them pay a lot of attention to it. Lets hear what they have to say about it:
I’ll start with myself. I’m a musician and have been performing for over ten years now. Initially I never even knew that my ears needed to be protected, but over time realised how important it was to take good care of my ears. I used regular earplugs for the longest time, but now use professional grade ones made by this company called Etymotic Research. These are really cool, as they evenly cut frequencies unlike the cheap ones that cut more high and mid frequencies. Unfortunately these aren’t freely available in India, but I was lucky to get mine from the US. I make sure I take these with whenever I go for a practice session (everyone likes it loud!) or at a concert. Another alternative is to get earplugs made specially by a doctor. These may cost a bit, but they’ll definitely be worth it in the long run.
The right earplugs can save your ears
Allwin Rego: Sound Designer
“I don’t monitor loud unless the producers are around, as they like it that way. I monitor at around 60 % of optimal volume. It is very important to take breaks when you are tired, otherwise you lose judgment and your work ends up being rubbish. I also never use headphones.”
Jeremy Rana - Live Sound Engineer and DJ:
“I always use ear plugs when setting up. Sometimes you may get a lot of feedback from the speakers, which can do a lot of damage to your ears especially if you are right next to the speakers. Local ones are really cheap, but you can get decent imported ones too. As a DJ, I make sure I take breaks in between sets and use the right headphones.”
The DJ will spin it loud, but make sure you take breaks in between
Dr. Rajaram Phadnis – ENT Specialist:
“It is extremely important to keep your ears clean. Most people use cotton buds to do this, but excessive use of these is also not good. Earwax may be annoying, but it actually helps the ear stay clean, so try not to get it out yourself. Keep your ears dry as far as possible. Moist or wet ears are very susceptible to infection. I know this may sound preachy, but try not to expose yourself to loud sounds for stretched periods of time. Try and wear ear protection when you go to discos or concerts. It will definitely help in the long run. Lastly, it is also very important to make a trip to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist at least once every 3-6 months.”
Regular visits to the ENT are important
Try and make sure that you look into whatever you’ve just read. You may not believe it now, but these points are actually very valid. Your ears are very important, so please do take care of them while they’re still in good condition.