Re: Hearing Loss Sites, etc.

Subject: Re: Hearing Loss Sites, etc.
From: Scott Stallings (
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 18:30:06 EDT

As a practicing Audiologist I am delighted to follow this topic about noise induced hearing loss. It is professionally and personally satisfying to learn that the electro acoustic community is concerned about this tremendous problem within society.
Until the musical community begins to monitor itself relative to high noise levels it behooves each of us to protect ourselves, and ultimately self-protection always will be the basic solution.
Some have asked what to do on an individual level. Those responding with answers have been excellent: (1) Make a small financial investment at an electronic store such as Radio Shack to purchase a sound level meter. Extech Corporation manufactures a nifty sound level meter, the SL120 retailing at $249.00 USD, that allows you to preset the decibel level of your choice so as to warn when that threshold is reached ( But cheap or expensive, take a sound level with you to concerts and measure the ambient sound pressure level. Despite the standards that accept an extended 90 dB exposure, 85 dB is a much safer level --- remember, decibels operate within the logarithmic and not the arithmetic realm. In other words, the 5dB difference between these exposure levels may not seem that great but the actual increase of intensity between 85 and 90 dB is considerable. (2) Spend the money for a professionally prescribed set of ear canal plugs. Yes, I know, it sou!
 self-servicing for an Audiologist to say this, but you really do need a custom set of plugs that are manufactured just for you and nobody else. Just like snow flakes differ, so do ear canals. Generic plugs just don't cut it, and the money spent for an audiologist-fitted set of plugs is money well spent. (3) Eschew amplification speakers like the black plague. (4) Take frequent breaks during concerts . . . . just get up, remove your ear plugs, then walk out for awhile . . . and walk far away! (5) Forget about your exposure to large dynamic ranges, harmonic overtones, resonances, frequency ranges, and other "interesting" acoustical phenomena because that's just not where the problem is located. Current auditory research gives no credence to this. It's sound intensity and that's the sum and substance of it. Whatever the frequency exposure - lows, mids, or highs - your initial auditory deficits will begin within the portion of the cochlea that processes high frequenci!
 es . . .
 you'll be aware of people speaking to you but will miss so much of the content that you must ask them to repeat key words and phrases. (6) Community noise abatement laws exist but don't expect this to be the answer. Enforcement is most difficulty at best even within residential areas, and it will not be easy convincing the authorities that danger exists when the majority of those attending the gathering are not only unoffended by the loud intensity but actually desire it. Yet for what it's worth, here's an URL concerning American legalities that perhaps may provide some information: (7) Do an Internet search of "hearing loss+musicians" for a wealth of practical information. To get you started, consider: (a nonprofit hearing source for musicians and music lovers), http://homepages.kdsi/~sherman/hearingloss,, (American Speech-Language Hearing Association) and (Canadian Associ!
 ation of
 Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists). Certainly there are added worthy Internet sites and each of the above sites will provide links to them.
Finally, I must take professional issue with the concept that a good night's rest allows the ringing to go away and then all is okay. I mean no offense against those posting this concept since the phenomena is known as a Temporary Threshold Shift, i.e. TTS. Yes, it may be "Temporary," but given enough of these temporary shifts and the result is a certain Permanent Threshold Shift. Hearing research has begun to locate medications that will ease the results of mild TTS, but any Ear Specialist and/or Audiologist will always advise that this is not the trusty solution to the problem.
Best wishes as you work to preserve one of the most precious senses you've been given.
Scott / Tenere In Vividus Sonus / Keeping Sound Alive

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