Monthly Archives: January 2019

Hearing preservation should be part of music education

January 20, 2019

For several years ProtectEar has been outfitting stars and musicians with custom molded hearing protection.

From Oscar-winning actors to top box office stars and Grammy-winning musicians, those who value their hearing the most wear custom hearing protection by Custom Protect Ear. See Celebrities. 

In essence, all musicians should value their hearing and understand the long term ramifications of being exposed to high-frequency noise over long periods of time. Hearing Health and Preservation is an important part to Music Education.

blackstone2Music Noise Exposure

Studies suggest musicians are four times more likely than others to experience hearing loss due to their repeated exposure to loud, prolonged rehearsals and performances.

Dr. Greg Horton, an audiologist at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center, understands this from his own experience. He’s played drums and bass for various bands over the past twenty years. He remembers attending a Ramones concert when he was 17.

“My ears were ringing for a week afterward and I felt like I had cotton stuffed in my ears,” he said. “I saw other people at the show wearing earplugs and I thought, ‘Hey, that’s probably a good idea,’ but nobody told me that was what I should do.”
Horton stresses that education is a key component of hearing preservation. He encourages music educators, those who give lessons, teach in schools or organize music camps, to incorporate information about it in their curriculum.

db life sweet tones

For instance, musicians may reject the idea of wearing earplugs because they don’t want to hear a low-quality version of what they’re playing.  What they may not know is, there are earplugs specifically designed to filter music while maintaining the fidelity like the dB Life™ Sweet Tones Musicians Earpieces. ThedB Life™ Sweet Tones reduces all frequencies equally by 9 dB, 15 dB, 20 dB or 25 dB with corresponding Flat Attenuation Filters.

This hearing protection is designed for musicians who want to hear sound without distortion but with less volume. Also recommended for those with some hearing loss for use as hearing protection in the 20 dB style. Learn More 

“So, for example, my band…we’re a pretty loud band,” Horton explained. “At practice, I use the strongest filters – meaning they will attenuate, turn down, the most. And then, when I play live, I switch out my filters and I play for a shorter period of time and I like to hear a little bit more of the music but it still keeps me safe.”

Hearing Loss Prevention

It’s much easier to prevent hearing loss than it is to treat it, and Horton says it’s not just musicians who’ve been playing a long time who should be aware of this.

“Because we’re seeing that this generation of young adults is having far more incidents of hearing loss than the previous generations for the same age group,” he said, “and it’s all about recreational noise exposure, whether it’s going to concerts, going to clubs, and definitely from all the excessive earbud use.”

He suggests that musicians give their ears a rest once in a while and also recommends a baseline hearing evaluation and annual follow-ups with a licensed audiologist.“We’re an industry that’s not regulated,” Horton said. “We don’t have OSHA coming in saying, ‘Oh, you’re a drummer in a rock n’ roll band? You have to wear your hearing protection,’ so it’s really up to us to do it ourselves.”

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High-frequency hearing loss

January 16, 2019

Understanding high-frequency hearing loss

There was once a television commercial for a well-known credit card company which claimed, “We treat you like you’d treat you.” It features a telephone conversation with two young men who look a lot alike. One has an affinity for frogs. The other is the credit card company representative.

“Hey! I heard you guys can help me with frog protection?” the potential customer asks the representative as he lovingly strokes the head of his giant, green, pet frog.

“Yeah, we provide fraud protection,” the representative responds and then proceeds to deliver a short pitch about the benefits of opening an account.

“Just to be clear, you are saying frog protection,” the potential customer asks.

Photo of audience at a loud live concert
Loud live music events are one of many
causes of high-frequency hearing loss.

“Fraud protection,” the representative says, as if he heard clearly.

“I think we’re on the same page,” the potential customer summarizes.

“We’re totally on the same page,” the representative concurs.

This is a funny scenario when you’re watching it play out on television, but not quite so funny when it occurs in your daily life because of hearing loss.

Take high-frequency hearing loss, for example.

People with this condition have trouble hearing sounds in the 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz (Hz) range. In speech, this includes consonants such as s, h or f. Adults with high-frequency hearing loss may have trouble understanding female voices more than male voices and difficulty hearing birds sing or the high-pitched beeping coming from their microwave oven. Speech may seem muffled, especially when using the telephone or in noisy situations.

When children have high-frequency hearing loss, it can impede their ability to learn speech and language, affecting their ability to excel in school.

Regardless of your age, high-frequency hearing loss can affect your quality of life, creating anxiety, depression and social isolation.

High-frequency hearing loss occurs when the sensory hearing cells in your cochlea die or are damaged. These hair cells are responsible for translating the sounds your ears collect into electrical impulses, which your brain eventually interprets as recognizable sound. High-frequency sounds are perceived in the lower part of the cochlea, while the hair cells that perceive low-frequency sounds are located near the top. Because of this, hearing loss typically affects the higher frequencies before it affects the lower frequencies.

Hearing frequency

Causes of high-frequency hearing loss

People of all ages can be affected by high-frequency hearing loss — and the reasons causing it are just as varied.

  • Noise – According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 10 million Americans have suffered irreversible damage due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), with 30-50 million more exposed to dangerous noise levels on a daily basis. The damage can occur as the result of a one-time, loud exposure to noise, such as a gunshot or explosion, or can occur over time with constant exposure to noise louder than 85 decibels (dB).
  • Aging – Hearing loss that occurs as the result of the aging process is called presbycusis. Because this is a slow process which usually affects both ears equally, it’s often difficult to notice. One of the first signs is the inability to understand speech in noisy environments and high-frequency sounds.
  • Genetics – Check your family history. If your relatives developed high-frequency hearing loss, you may be genetically predisposed to developing it as well.
  • Ototoxicity – Some types of drugs are ototoxic, meaning they are harmful to your hearing health. Some of the more common ototoxic drugs include salicylates (aspirin) in large quantities, drugs used in chemotherapy treatments and aminoglycoside antibiotics.
  • Diseases – Meniere’s disease, which affects the inner ear, often occurs between the ages of 30-50 and may include fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo or intense dizziness. In children, chronic otitis media (commonly known as an ear infection) can lead to hearing loss if it’s untreated. If your child has chronic, recurring ear infections, please consult your pediatrician or an otologist for medical treatment before it affects their speech and language development.

Preventing high-frequency hearing loss; Hearing Protection

High-frequency hearing loss isn’t reversible, but in some cases, it is preventable. One of the best prevention techniques is to protect your hearing against exposure to noise – especially noise louder than 85 decibels (dB). Keep the volume turned down on your personal electronic devices and wear hearing protection whenever you anticipate being in a noisy environment, such as at the shooting range, when riding snowmobiles, or when attending a live concert or sporting event. Inexpensive earplugs are available at the local drugstore for occasional use. Or if you are always exposed to high-frequency noise over a long period of time, you may want to consider customized molded hearing protection such as dB Blockers.  If you regularly engage in very noisy hobbies, consider investing in specialized hearing protection such as noise-canceling headphones or custom-made earmolds which can be purchased through many hearing healthcare professionals.

Treatment options

As you can see, high-frequency hearing loss can result from many different underlying causes, most of which are not medically treatable. Fortunately, high-frequency hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids in most cases.

If you suspect you have hearing loss, make an appointment to see a hearing health professional to get your hearing tested. If your tests indicate you have hearing loss which can be treated with a hearing device, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, be sure to follow through with treatment recommendations. Research indicates most hearing aid wearers are satisfied with their hearing devices and enjoy a richer quality of life than those who decide not to seek treatment.

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Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing


OUCH! Its Cold out there so protect your hearing…

January 2, 2019

Hearing protection in cold weather.  Are you trying to keep your ears warm and also protected from noise exposure?


These tips from an audiologist can help.

Cold weather can present unique challenges for hearing health and safety. Workers can be exposed to potentially hazardous noises in industries across British Columbia, from avalanche control to oil and gas, drilling, road construction, and forestry, among others. When equipment and tasks are at odds with hearing protection, workers risk permanent hearing damage and loss.

“Hearing loss occurs when hair cells in the inner ear are permanently damaged due to repeated exposure to hazardous noise, regardless of the type of noise,” says Sasha Brown, the occupational audiologist in WorkSafeBC’s Risk Analysis Unit.

“Both the level or intensity of noise, and the duration or amount of time someone is exposed to noise interact to create the hazard. This is why it is essential for employers to have a hearing conservation program and provide appropriate hearing protection equipment to workers.”

Heli-ski guides are particularly at risk of developing hearing loss because their work involves being in close proximity to helicopters. When the mountains become frosted with snow, they help clients get into the backcountry to chase fresh powder and adventure.

Along with the excitement of this line of work, comes exposure to sound levels of around 100 decibels (dBA) from the helicopters they need to work in and around for long periods of time.

What is a safe level of noise?

Noise hazards are calculated by combining the dBA — the intensity of a sound measured in decibels on a sound-level meter — with the duration of time someone is exposed to the noise, Brown explains. Noise levels that exceed 85 dBA over an eight-hour time period are hazardous and could cause noise-induced hearing loss.

“Because decibels are a logarithmic scale, a three-decibel increase in noise doubles the amount of exposure.”

88 dBA is safe for 4 hours

91 dBA is safe for 2 hours

94 dBA is safe for 1 hour

97 dBA is safe for 30 minutes

102.4 dBA is safe for 8 minutes and 37 seconds

Safety talk

November / December 2018 | WorkSafe Magazine 17

“Heli-ski guides face additional risks because they are required to interact with their clients and listen for signs of avalanche danger,” says Brown. “This makes it difficult for guides to wear hearing protection throughout their entire work shifts. They, therefore, need hearing protection that can be easily placed and removed at will. “A further complication is that guides are required to wear ski helmets, and most noise-reducing earmuffs are not designed to fit around ski helmets. Guides might feel that they cannot wear both a helmet and hearing protection.”

heli skiing

The key, says Brown, is to understand the risks of hazardous noise exposure and protect yourself using the right hearing protection for your line of work. Heli-ski guides should use at least Class B-rated hearing protection because of the intensity and duration of noise to which they are exposed. In other industries, it may be necessary to test out different types of hearing protection to find the option that works best for you and your job.

Five tips you should know about protecting your hearing:

  1. Know your options for hearing protection. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hearing protection. Investigate and test several different options with your employer to find the right fit for your hearing-protection and work requirements.
  2. Get an annual hearing test. This is an important way to gather information about whether your hearing protection is working effectively. Changes in your hearing ability could indicate a need to make some adjustments to your hearing protection, including its style, fit, and duration of use.
  3. Know the hazards of noise. Noise-induced hearing loss is both permanent and preventable. It has also been linked to cognitive decline and dementia, and can lead to social isolation. Get to know the risks associated with noise exposure, including the relationship between hearing loss and sound volume and duration of exposure. And always use sound protection when working around noises that exceed 85 dBA.
  4. Use well-fitted hearing protection. Hearing-protection needs vary by sector. If you choose to protect your hearing with earmuffs and also work in cold temperatures, you may need to remove your toque or beanie to ensure a proper earmuff seal — a thick toque can reduce hearing protection by up to 24 dBA. If you need to wear a helmet, make sure your earmuffs and helmet are compatible and do not compromise the earmuff seal. You may also opt for semi-insert canal caps or earplugs that fit underneath toques. These should not require a specific type of helmet.
  5. Frequently inspect your hearing protection. Work that involves a high degree of physicality and that takes place in an outdoor setting can speed up wear and tear on hearing protection. To prevent overexposure to noise from faulty or damaged equipment, inspect your hearing protection before each use.

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For more information, search for “hearing loss prevention” or “heli-ski guide” on .