It’s not just heavy metal rock stars that are suffering from tinnitus symptoms.  It seems that even classical musicians are searching for help to cure tinnitus symptoms.  What people need to understand is that any loud noise, even a soothing one, can cause damage to our ears if we listen to it for prolonged periods of time.  Don’t think it’s just the heavy metal or hard rock music that is the culprit, because any time our ears are subjected to loud noises for an extended period of time, they can become damaged and you will begin to suffer from the symptoms of tinnitus.

Prevent Tinnitus With Ear Plugs

Prevent Tinnitus With Ear Plugs (www.earplugs.de)

We found this recent story about a pianist named Steven Osborne who is a world-class soloists, who is suffering from tinnitus.  The good thing about Steven’s story is that he discovered his symptoms early and being to protect his ears from further damage by using earplugs.  Steven now believes that the ear plugs help him to be a better performer, so this story has a better ending than most tinnitus stories.  Here is what Judith Kogan of www.wbez.org had to say about Steven in a recent article:

Imagine an artist who puts on clouded glasses in order to paint. Or a ballerina who adds weights to her feet.  Now consider a musician who puts in earplugs:  not a rock star, who’s protecting his ears from deafening noises, but a classical soloist who by comparison works in near silence, and who believes that filtering out sound leads to a more nuanced performance.

Meet pianist Steven Osborne and cellist Alban Gerhardt. They’re both world-class soloists who will be featured at Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, which starts Wednesday in Millennium Park.  And they both consider earplugs as essential to their music-making as the instruments they play.

About 15 years ago, Osborne started to hear a quiet high-pitched noise in his left ear. It came and went; he didn’t think much of it. After a while, it seemed to move from his left to his right ear. And then, alarmingly, one day it stayed. A doctor determined that Osborne had developed tinnitus from practicing too loudly in a small room.

There’s no way to cure tinnitus, but earplugs can keep it from getting worse. Osborne was custom-fitted with a special “musician” pair of earplugs, which filter out a calibrated amount of noise while allowing other sounds to enter.

Osborne discovered that it was helpful to practice with the devices, and shared this with his friend and collaborator Alban Gerhardt, who doesn’t have tinnitus. Curiosity piqued, Gerhardt tried and liked them. He said they forced him to listen more carefully, and he found it easier to hear the “core” of his cello sound, to get to its essence.

“It’s such a big difference playing in a little room versus a big hall,” Gerhardt said. Wearing earplugs in the practice room prevents him from getting seduced by the vibrant acoustics, he said. And that helps prepare him for performances in large concert halls, with stages that can feel big, dry and unforgiving.  He said, for him, wearing earplugs has closed the acoustic gap between playing in a practice room and a concert hall.  You can read the rest of the original article here.

We just did a recent post on how bad ear phones, particularly ear buds can be for our young people’s hearing, so to find a story where ear plugs are actually helping to improve our music is a bit different and a really great story.  If you are a musician or involved with loud music in any way, you may be able to use this information to protect you or someone you care about and prevent them from doing future or even further damage to their hearing.

I believe that we are on the cusp of finding a tinnitus cure, but until then, we need to make sure that people are really educated on the dangers of loud sounds in our ears.  Even moderate sounds that last for extended periods can do damage, and I don’t think young people really quite understand this fact.  The simple fact that even classical musicians are searching for help to cure tinnitus is a good indication of what extended loud noises can do to our ears and our hearing.  If you have young kids, please make sure you monitor their use of headphones, ear buds and any type of noise that goes for extended periods of time.

Below is a YouTube video on how to properly use earplugs.

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