How To Avoid Hearing Loss While Being An Awesome Drummer

How To Avoid Hearing Loss While Being An Awesome Drummer

We’ve all been there before; your favorite song comes on the radio and you absolutely must turn it up! As the music courses through your veins, you’re feeling amazing and you could dance forever.

As awesome as that all is, exposure to extremely loud noises can cause hearing loss. Now if your hearing can be affected by that, just imagine the effects of constant drumming has on a drummer’s ear! Why, Roger Taylor (Queen’s drummer) and Lars Ulrich (Metallica’s drummer) both have hearing problems as a result from years and years of playing the drums.

How Does Drumming Cause Hearing Loss?

Back in 2014, there was a study published which concluded that professional musicians are at a higher risk of hearing problems as a direct result of their occupation. The study included three million Germans, 2,227 of whom were professional musicians.

Drummer Hitting Drums

The researchers discovered that musicians were nearly four times as likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss in comparison to the rest of the group.

Drummers are even more at risk because their instruments are so loud – especially when you get into those rad drumming solos! Unfortunately, because their instruments are so loud, and they get so into their music, drumming and hearing damage seem to go hand in hand.

Drummers tend to have worse hearing than even violinists who tend to have severe hearing problems in one ear more so than the other because their instrument is right near the ear.

Usually, when researchers are focusing on a person’s loss of hearing sensitivity, it’s important to note that drummers often experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears). In fact, one study revealed that a professional drummer is one and a half times more likely to suffer with this condition.

Signs Of Drumming Hearing Loss

While you’re drumming, hearing damage isn’t going to happen right away. The damage is usually gradual, and it can even go unnoticed until the warning signs become so significant, they can’t be ignored.

Usually, the first symptoms drummers notice is having difficulty distinguishing one voice from another in a group conversation. It’s at this point where the damage is so bad, there isn’t anything that can be done.

However, once you know the warning signs, you’ll be able to prevent hearing loss going forward. The warning signs include:

  • Your ears begin to hurt after prolonged exposure to the noise
  • Your ears feel like they are clogged, even though you haven’t been swimming
  • You must speak louder to hear yourself when talking with someone standing next to you
  • You hear a ringing or a buzzing in your ears – sometimes it’s just temporary
  • You notice you cannot hear as well anymore
  • Your ears become ‘tired’ and you don’t want to hear any more sounds

If you start noticing these signs, you’ll want to consult a doctor and try to prevent the hearing damage from getting worse

How To Avoid Hearing Loss As A Drummer

Did you know that the sound threshold for pain was a staggering 125 dB? That’s about the sound a balloon makes when it pops. But if you go to a rock concert, you’ll be exposed to 130 dB of noise. Levels this high is going to cause hearing problems – even if only temporary.

Woman Holding Headphones

Yes, it’s true that your ears can repair themselves, but there is only so much the ear can do. The regeneration rate of our ears is determined by a variety of factors, such as genetics, diet, stress, and our general health.

Since the regeneration is going to be different for each person, there it’s hard to say how much noise you can be exposed to before you begin to have problems.

Of course, you can avoid hearing loss, or reduce the effects of prolonged exposure to loud music by taking simple precautions, such as:

  • Turn down the volume - Whatever you’re listening to, if you can adjust the volume, do it
  • Wear protective ear plugs/headphones - By wearing the best protective headphones or even ear plugs, much of the noise you’d typically hear will be cancelled out or reduce the sound to a much lower decibel. These devices are specially designed for drummers and musicians because they can evenly reduce the sound without sacrificing the music’s frequency. To get an idea of what kind of headphones there are, check out our drummer’s headphone buying guide
  • Consult with a doctor - By talking to a doctor, they could give you medications that are designed to help with ear regeneration. Be sure not to combine the medications prescribed to you with other meds that could cause ototoxicity, which means the ototoxic medication (over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and acetaminophen) can damage the sensory structures of the ear
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    Drink lots of water and live well - Water, exercise, and even your diet can help your ears. Water, a good diet, and exercise can help to moderate the number of ototoxic drugs in your ears, thus promoting ear regeneration
  • Reduce noise levels at the source - Perhaps the simplest way to prevent drumming hearing loss is by reducing the amount of noise your drums make by using drum heads and cymbals that are made specifically to reduce the volume of the instruments

Final Thoughts

Drumming and hearing loss is a very real problem that many musicians all over the world experience. However, when you recognize the early warning signs of tinnitus, you can take precautions to avoid further damage.

Drummer Smiling

Leave us a comment below and tell us about your story. Do you suffer from early hearing loss because you’re a drummer? Do you know a musician who’s now reliant on hearing aids after decades of rocking out? We’d love to know how drumming hearing damage has affected you.

Resources

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