The ear is the most valuable instrument of the musician, it is also a very fragile organ. Exposed to strong sound intensities for long periods, the musician's ear is likely to deteriorate early.

Hearing loss most often occurs slowly and progressively in relation to the destruction of the ciliated cells. This is why we often don't become aware of it until it is too late. Hearing loss can be a result of normal aging of the ear that occurs between 50-60 years old, known as presbyacusis. However, it can also be due to repeated exposure to loud, intense sound.

Exposure to sound levels starting at 85 dB is considered to be a risk for the inner ear. Therefore, certain limits to exposure must be respected. For the musician as well as for those whose hearing loss is related to environmental noise, a loss will appear as a notch on the audiogram around 3000Hz-4000 Hz. This means that the ear loses auditory acuity at those levels.

Audiogram showing hearing loss at 3000 Hz.

This type of hearing loss is permanent, it reduces speech recognition and it can be a detriment to the musician's practice, at this point the only recourse is the use of a hearing aid. A reduction in hearing can also occur suddenly. For example, when one is exposed to high levels of intense sound greater than 110 dB. The best way for a musician to prevent this hearing loss is to use ear protection.

Image of a human ear with broken glass in front of it

It is an abnormal lowering of discomfort levels. Thus, all sounds even the weakest sounds in the most severe cases are perceived as painful, too loud. It is thought to be related to dysfunction of the central nervous system. Hyperacusis is very disabling, so it brings the patient to some isolation to protect himself from the noise. It may appear abruptly following acoustic trauma, including exposure to very loud sounds.

Therapies are based on progressive rehabilitation to the world of sounds.

image of a man with three megaphone around his head

It is the fact of perceiving the same sound in the form of different heights between the two ears. For example, an "A" would be perceived at 440 Hz in the left ear and perceived at 480 Hz in the right ear. This hearing disorder can result from hearing loss and is particularly disabling for the musician

A tinnitus is a sound, whether it is a high pitch or low pitch, buzzing or whistling sound, perceived by the ear without any acoustic stimulation. One of the causes of onset of tinnitus is exposure to loud sounds. It can be temporary or permanent, and subjective, ie: heard only by the patient, or objective, ie: the caregiver is able to hear it with the help of a stethoscope for example. Objective tinnitus can often be cured but it is quite rare.

In most cases, tinnitus is subjective and originates in neuronal dysfunction. It can thus be linked to a loss of hearing resulting from a damage to the hair cells. Permanent tinnitus is difficult to treat and therapies rely heavily on relaxation techniques. Temporary tinnitus disappears after a few hours but should be considered as a precursor to hearing fatigue. Think about hearing protection.