Whether we’re blasting car stereos, rocking out at concerts, or lying around the pool listening to our MP3 players, music, particularly loud music, is a staple of the American way of life. However, most people are unaware that by indulging in these high volume pastimes they may be irreversibly damaging their ability to hear.

In recent years, musicians like Sting, Pete Townshend, and Neil Young have admitted experiencing varying degrees of hearing loss due to high music volumes. Although their public acknowledgements highlight the threat posed by concerts and loud music, many Americans continue to subject themselves to deafness-inducing volumes.

Fortunately, many musicians are now more conscientious about protecting their own hearing health and that of their fans.

“From the beginning, we played just about as loud as we could; that’s just part of the essence of rock ‘n’ roll, isn’t it? But there did come a day when the realization dawned that maintaining one’s hearing is important and how exposure to high decibel sound levels puts things at risk,” says ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons. “Taking precautions to minimize exposure to extremely loud sounds is critical for both artists and audiences, alike.”

According to a 2004 Hearing Loss Study conducted by Clarity, a division of Plantronics, Chattanooga, Tenn, and The Ear Foundation, Nashville, Tenn, 51% of respondents who reported difficulty hearing blamed their hearing loss on exposure to loud noises either on the job or from recreational activities and hobbies.

“It’s unfortunate that so many musicians and vocalists have lost their hearing because of their livelihood,” says Suzanne Wyatt, executive director of The Ear Foundation. “We can only hope their experiences will encourage the average American to take extra precautions when they find themselves around loud music.”

Individuals can easily monitor and control exposure to loud noises recreationally, especially at concerts, in the car, and through MP3 players. The cheapest, easiest way to protect ears during concerts is to use earplugs. Thanks to bands like Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band who now wear ear protection during shows, earplugs are increasingly popular. Reducing stereo and MP3 player volumes is also necessary for hearing loss prevention. Clarity and The Ear Foundation have also joined together to raise awareness of hearing loss causes and solutions among professional musicians by conducting outreach work backstage at music industry awards shows.

“At Clarity, not only are we concerned about creating products for individuals currently experiencing hearing loss, but we also want to educate people on how to protect themselves while their hearing is still strong,” says Carsten Trads, president of Clarity. “Our partnership with The Ear Foundation helps us raise awareness of the dangers of loud noises and also warn people to protect their hearing when enjoying loud music this summer.”

[SOURCE: PR Web, September 21, 2006]