Hey. HEY! We know that Excision’s latest album is fantastic, but if you could take at least one of your ear buds out for a minute and turn it down, there’s something we need to talk about. As a generation of people who have grown-up with our headphones on and the volume loud, the collective damage to the hearing capabilities of our scene is frightening. The great thing is, it’s all easily preventable. Despite this fact, many of us who attend shows regularly and are constantly fueling our day with tunes directly fed into our ears, are ignoring simple solutions to a potentially major problem. Wearing earplugs, turning the volume down, and taking a break every so often are all affordable, easy ways to have a drastic impact on the damage we’re doing to our hearing.
Hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise at work or leisure activities affects approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 (~26 million people), and approximately 16 percent of American teens ages 12 to 19, according to a recent survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact that the percentage of teens reporting hearing loss is higher than those who, due to their longer time potentially hearing loud noises, are more likely to have experienced hearing loss, is troubling. It also signals a dangerous trend that, without attention, could lead to unimaginable damage to the hearing of a generation.
There are two main ways this noise induced hearing loss is caused; a one-time exposure to an ‘impulse’ sound, like an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time. There are plenty of recreational activities that dance music fans take part in that fit either of those descriptions, and without the proper precautions, can cause permanent damage to our hearing capabilities.
Activities labelled as high risk by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders include listening to music at high volumes through headphones, playing in bands, and attending loud concerts. We all love listening to our music daily and raging at shows with the bass turned up as loud as it can go, but there is such a thing as too loud and too much.
Noise induced hearing loss is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable, and if we understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, we can protect our hearing for life. As large a role as music plays in many of our lives, our hearing should be worth protecting.