In our early days there was classical music. Some artists, even deaf artists, would perform brilliantly for their audience in orchestra halls and concert halls alike. The relatively soft tone of a concert was just loud enough for patrons of the arts but over time there came a change of volume. Soon we would start hearing the sounds of Jazz and Rock, both representing liberation and the soul, and both progressively louder counterparts to classical music. With disco also on the rise our ear drums delighted in hearing the loud sounds that paired with flamboyant costumes and exceptionally fun dance moves.
Not long after, techno joined the ranks and pumped up the volume even more. With clubs playing intense drum-and-bass and euro-trance loud enough to make your body tremble, our ears started to complain. And complain they do as we exit the club or the rock concert and everything becomes muffled, our hearing no longer as clear as it once was. But this is all only temporary; this muffled sensation goes away and our hearing is just fine only hours later. There should be no long term effects from any of those long party nights in the city other than maybe a hangover and regret of certain activities, right?
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That may not be the case after all, says Chief Executive Paul Breckell of Medical Research Council Centenary:
Damage to your hearing is irreversible – and, contrary to popular opinion, hearing loss is not a condition that only older people need to concern themselves about. With many nightclubs and concerts measuring 20 or 30 decibels above the safe noise level, more and more young people are likely to start feeling the effects of their music-loving, gig-going habits. Hearing loss not only rules out our enjoyment of music, but has the potential to lead to unemployment, isolation and has even been linked to dementia.
The story does not end there unfortunately. We have so many technological advancements that have been released in recent time, such as walkmen, cd players, casette players, mp3 players, ipods, zunes, and now even all of our cell phones are music players. What does one do when they sit in Starbucks sipping on a delicious pumpkin spiced latte? We plug in our headphones and listen to music. How about when we research or study on the computer? Blast away some System Of A Down of course. When you are cleaning or cooking? Drum and Bass to help us focus!
While it is a wonderful thing to have music in our lives and for it to be so special to us, it may be time to lower the sound level a bit. I have erred as well by playing my music loudly when I am at the gym and getting pumped up, literally. Or when I am driving home from work and my favorite song comes on and I am happy the work day is done, I BLAST IT! But at what cost to my hearing?
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MRC Centenary is conducting a study that will answer all of these questions in the near future. In fact you and I can become a part of this study. To take their questionnaire and be a part of a deafening… err, defining moment in hearing history visit the MRC Centenary. Even though the questionnaire focuses on sound, it is also a visually stimulating experience. But don’t just listen to me, check it out for yourself! Cheers!