A new study by Help Musicians UK shows that musicians are four times more likely than the general population to suffer hearing damage, and they have a significantly greater risk of developing tinnitus.
But few musicians are doing anything to lower the risk, the study found.
This is despite the fact that several major stars—including Ozzy Osbourne, Pete Townshend, Neil Young and Phil Collins—have publicly discussed their hearing loss and tinnitus in the past.
Now, Help Musicians UK—the leading UK charity for professional musicians of all genres—is setting out to educate musicians about the importance of looking after their ears. This follows recent research conducted by the organisation which found that 41% of musicians tend to experience hearing problems during their career, with the vast majority of them blaming their profession.
Nearly 700 professional musicians of all genres and types, singers and instrumentalists took part in the Help Musicians UK study. Just over 40% said they had experienced hearing loss and 20% said they did not know if they had been affected—meaning that less than half were confident their hearing was okay.
Some 78% of the musicians who reported a problem said they believed their career was a major factor in their hearing loss. 57% had suffered tinnitus, 21% hyperacusis (excessive sensitivity to sound) and 4% diplacusis (confusion in hearing pitch).
Despite the increased risk, 68% of the musicians surveyed said they hadn’t had a hearing test within the previous three years. And while 89% believed they should be using hearing protection, only 66% actually used it … and only 8% used it every time they played.
Nigel Hamilton, Help & Advice Manager at Help Musicians UK, said: “We know that hearing is one of the most important tools a musician has and when we started looking into musicians’ hearing more closely we realised how fragile it can be. Noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable but also completely irreversible. Once it’s gone, it’s lost forever. As the leading charity for musicians, we felt we had to do something”.
As part of the #HearForMusicians campaign, Help Musicians UK is offering advice on hearing protection via its website, as well as providing financial support for hearing tests, hearing protection and hearing aids. Find out more HERE …
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