Professional musicians "much more likely" to lose hearing
A new study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine suggests that professional musicians are almost four times as likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss and 57 percent more likely to develop tinnitus than the general public.
The research involves a large epidemiological study that uses data from insurance claims to assess the risk of musicians contracting hearing disorders. It also investigated to what extent professional musicians have a higher incidence of hearing problems, compared with the general public.
Using data from three health insurance providers--which contained the details of seven million German citizens--the researchers identified 2,227 professional musicians. During the study period, they found 238 cases of hearing loss among these musicians and 284,000 cases of hearing loss registered on the database overall.
The results showed that the musicians were 57 percent more likely to having tinnitus -- incessant ringing in the ears -- and almost four times as likely to have some level of deafness. These results contradict previous study results that have concluded that long-term exposure to industrial noise is linked to hearing loss, but that long-term exposure to music actually has the opposite effect and increases hearing sensitivity.
The study's authors recommended that professional musicians use ear protection when playing live and that sound shields should also be installed between different sections of an orchestra.