Los Angeles (May 3, 2004)–House Ear Institute (HEI) researchers have presented data compiled since 1997 from thousands of hearing screenings conducted at trade shows attended by people working in the music and audio industries–musicians and other music industry professionals, audio engineers and systems contractors. The results indicate that high-frequency hearing loss from noise-induced, inner-ear damage is evident in this sector of the population that is repeatedly exposed to high levels of sound.
Even when thresholds were within normal limits, all groups shared a characteristic “noise-notch,” or loss of hearing sensitivity around the 4-6 kHz frequency range. Further, compared to the general population, both men and women in music and sound careers show more hearing loss across all age groups.
“This is the first study of this scope to assess hearing loss among professionals in the music and audio industries,” said Rachel Cruz, M.A., CCC-A/FAAA, a research audiologist at the House Ear Institute. “Study results confirm what we’ve suspected for a long time. These groups not only have high-frequency hearing damage from overexposure to loud sounds, but they also acquire it earlier than individuals in the general population, who may experience a high-frequency hearing loss as they age.”
“The importance of hearing conservation in these unique vocational groups must be emphasized for career longevity and quality of life,” stressed Laurel Fisher, Ph.D., associate director of clinical studies at the House Ear Institute.
When assessing hearing damage for these groups, HEI researchers also considered exposure to noise sources outside of the work environment that might contribute to hearing loss. These additional noise sources included recreational activities and hobbies, home and yard maintenance with power equipment and commuter noise (car/train/bus). Comparative studies were included to determine contributing factors such as gender, age and history of vocational noise exposure to loud sounds. HEI researchers emphasize that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the one type of hearing loss that is preventable, and encourage all music and audio professionals to wear appropriate hearing protection where sound levels exceed the 85 decibel level (dB SPL) for extended periods of time.
House Ear Institute