Protecting Your Hearing Health  

A NASM – PAMA  Student Information Sheet on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

- Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.

Your hearing can be permanently damaged by loud sounds, including music. Technically, this is called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Such danger is constant.

Noise-induced hearing loss is largely preventable. You must avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time.

- The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing mechanisms.

- Sounds over 85 dB (your typical vacuum cleaner) in intensity pose the greatest risk to your hearing.

- Risk of hearing loss is based on a combination of sound or loudness intensity and duration.

- Recommended maximum daily exposure times (NIOSH) to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:

     - 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3 volume) – 8 hours

     - 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) – 2 hours

     - 94 dB (MP3 player at 1/2 volume) – 1 hour

     - 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume, lawnmower) – 15 minutes

     - 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) – 2 minutes

     - 120 dB (jet planes at take-off) – without ear protection, sound damage is almost immediate

- Certain behaviors (controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, turning down the volume) reduce your risk of hearing loss.

     - Be mindful of those MP3 earbuds. See chart above.

- The use of earplugs and earmuffs helps to protect your hearing health.

- Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing health, both now and in the future.

     - Since sound exposure occurs in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own hearing health on a daily basis.

- It is important to follow basic hearing health guidelines.

- It is also important to study this issue and learn more.

- If you are concerned about your personal hearing health, talk with a medical professional.

- If you are concerned about your hearing health in relationship to your program of study, consult Dr. Mark Williams.

Protecting Your Hearing Health: Student Information Sheet on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss - NASM/PAMA: November 2011, ed. Mark Williams.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has also produced a pamphlet on how to reduce the risk of hearing disorders:  Reducing the Risk of Hearing Disorders among Musicians.