Talk about suffering for your art. 

As you likely already know, musicians—classical or otherwise—have an incredibly high risk of developing hearing loss. In many circles, that's a widely-accepted risk of the profession. But many people don't realize just how significant that risk actually is. 

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), musicians are nearly four times more likely than non-musicians to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. They also have a 57% higher chance of developing tinnitus. And if those numbers alone aren't enough to convince you, just consider the long list of famous musicians that are now hearing impaired: 
  • Eric Clapton
  • Barbara Streisand
  • Neil Young
  • Pete Townshend
  • Roger Daltrey
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Danny Elfman
That's not even a comprehensive list. But we've made our point. As a musician, your sense of hearing is one of the most valuable tools in your arsenal. Almost every aspect of your profession involves auditory precision. 

Losing your hearing is akin to an artist losing their sight. With that in mind, you need to take every possible precaution to protect your ears. Here are five steps you can take to protect your hearing health, even in the face of overly loud live performances. 

Always Wear Protection

We'll start with the good news. Because hearing loss is a known condition among musicians, there are plenty of specialized protective earplugs designed specifically for the profession, such as Audionova Music. These custom-designed accessories filter harmful levels of noise while still preserving audio fidelity, ensuring that you can protect your ears without impacting your performance. 

Avoid Noise When Possible

The stage isn't the only threat to your hearing health as a musician. Our ears weren't made for the modern world, and our day-to-day life is absolutely brimming with potentially harmful or traumatic noise. As a musician, it falls to you to know the risks and take measures to protect yourself. 

Sometimes, that means avoiding certain events or venues without hearing protection. These could include fireworks displays, sporting events, construction sites, nightclubs, bars, and even heavy traffic. 

Turn Down the Volume

It's not just the stage that presents a risk to your hearing health. Even spending too much time in the studio can have long-term health effects. Just look at late Beatles producer George Martin. 

Even though he was not a musician, he was nearly deaf when he retired, owing to how much time he spent in the studio. In addition to keeping all sound to a reasonable volume, we'd advise using high-quality noise-canceling headphones. More importantly, be sure to take frequent breaks to give your ears time to recuperate. 

Don't Stick It In Your Ear. Seriously, Just Don't.

It doesn't matter if it's a cotton swab or an ear scraper. When in doubt, keep foreign objects out of your ear. If you really have an issue with itching, irritation, or earwax buildup, visit an audiologist for an exam. 

Not only does sticking things in your ear risk an ear infection, but there's also a chance that you could rupture or perforate your eardrum. While that injury will heal given enough time, you're still going to be completely out of commission for a week or more. 

The risk of being unable to perform for that long is never worth the short-term satisfaction.

Get Regular Hearing Checkups

At Connect Hearing, we maintain that everyone should at least consider an annual audiology exam, particularly later in life. With musicians, the need is even more pronounced. We'd even venture that you should get your hearing checked even more frequently than the average person—twice a year or more. 

If you are suffering from the early warning signs of noise-induced hearing loss, catching it early can be the difference between mild hearing impairment and permanent deafness. Plus, audiologists can give you valuable advice on how to keep your hearing protected even during an intense performance. Listen to them. 

Musicians are one of the highest-risk professions where hearing loss is concerned. And although there are plenty of experimental treatments which could eventually cure even permanent deafness, we're still many years off from those being publicly available. In the meantime, take care of your hearing. 

Because without it, you no longer have your music, either.