February 26, 2020

Musicians Hearing Experts

Musicians Hearing Experts

At Hearing Healthcare Practice we see many musicians from all fields of music – players in major orchestras, international pop music stars and amateurs alike. Music is close to our hearts and the issues experienced by musicians, often as a result of playing their music, are well known to us.

The American Academy of Audiology has recently published a document highlighting the key issues reported by musicians and the best practices that can be employed to help. In this first piece, we present an edited summary from the paper (Copyright 2020: American Academy of Audiology) and, in future posts, we’ll expand more on the document and the issues raised.

This should make interesting and, sadly, familiar reading to many musicians.

If you are a musician and are worried about your hearing or seeking expert advice on hearing protection please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Musicians Hearing Experts at Hearing Healthcare Practice.

Music-Induced Hearing Disorders.

Excessive exposure to music/sound of sufficient level and duration can cause hearing loss and other auditory system disorders including tinnitus, distortion, hyperacusis, diplacusis, and dysacusis. Taken as a whole, these auditory maladies are termed Music-Induced Hearing Disorders (MIHD). They can occur in isolation or in combination in individuals with occupational or recreational exposure to music.

• Music-Induced Hearing Loss. Similar to its industrial counterpart, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), music-induced hearing loss (MIHL) is characterized by either a temporary or permanent loss of hearing sensitivity secondary to overexposure to music.

• Tinnitus. This is perhaps the most reported form of MIHD among musicians. Tinnitus can be present without MIHD however, many patients with tinnitus have accompanying hearing loss and the severity of the tinnitus is often correlated with the amount of lifetime sound exposure

• Decreased Sound Tolerance. Heightened sensitivity to sound intensity often accompanies hearing loss with or without tinnitus and can be particularly disabling for music professionals. Decreased sound tolerance (DST) can also occur with normal hearing sensitivity (termed hyperacusis) or as a consequence of hearing loss. Physical pain can be experienced with sound of even moderate intensity, and consequently, the individual may develop a fear of sound, or phonophobia.

• Diplacusis and Dysacusis. Two additional auditory disorders, diplacusis and dysacusis, can be particularly distressing for musicians. Diplacusis is characterized by a change in pitch perception, often described as perceiving one pitch differently in each ear. Dysacusis is characterized as a decrease in auditory clarity, presenting as distortion of tone frequency or sound quality in one or both ears.

If you are worried about any of these conditions and would like expert advice on hearing protection and treatment for musicians please get in touch with our Musicians Hearing Experts at Hearing Healthcare Practice.