3 THINGS MUSICIANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEARING LOSS
An Interview with Audiologist, Dr. Julie Glick
By Diana Lucarino-Diekmann
Whether you’re a musician or just someone who loves listening to music, custom-fitted musicians earplugs can help you prevent hearing loss while preserving the quality of your listening experience.
Common signs of hearing loss:
- Increased difficulty hearing in noise.
- Preferring the television to be louder than others.
- Difficulty with clarity of conversation.
- Speaking louder, typically an indication of needing more volume to hear your own voice.
“Hearing loss can cause people to avoid social situations and feel isolated, even depressed. For musicians it can be devastating. The good news is that you can do something about it,” says Dr. Julie Glick, a Los Angeles-based audiologist specializing in the unique needs of musicians, sound engineers and audiophiles.
When Dr. Glick started practicing audiology 23 years ago, she soon realized that musicians needed an audiologist who understood their unique hearing needs. In 2010 she formed a boutique private practice in New York City. In 2017 she moved her practice to Los Angeles. Dr. Glick’s inspiration to create Musicians Hearing Solutions® stemmed from her recognition that musicians and audio enthusiasts deserved the opportunity to decide for themselves, along with her expert guidance, what type of sound quality and hearing protection was most appropriate, based on their unique listening needs and preferences. She also worked as an audiologist for two years at Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation in Chicago. (Click here for full bio.)
Dr. Glick is pleased that there is more awareness of hearing loss and other related issues like tinnitus. She credits high profile musicians like The Who’s Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, who have gone public with their hearing problems. Noise-induced hearing loss has affected many famous musicians (Eric Clapton, Huey Lewis, and Brian Setzer, to name just a few). It is estimated that more than 50% of all musicians suffer from some form of tinnitus and/or hearing loss.
If you are a musician or simply someone who likes their music loud, Dr. Glick has these recommendations:
- Get your hearing checked annually. Dr. Glick offers a much more extensive diagnostic hearing test than most audiologists who check hearing from 250-8,000 hertz, which is the range most important for speech. Her test, which is tailored to musicians and sound engineers, checks from 250-20,000 hertz. “Noise-induced hearing loss shows up as a specific configuration, between 2500-6,000 hertz, and we can determine if noise has affected your hearing.”
- Get GOOD earplugs. “If earplugs don’t fit properly, they slide out or people will just remove them. Most over-the-counter earplugs muffle the sound and that’s why most musicians reject them.” Using silicone impressions, Dr. Glick custom fits earplugs that create a seal in the ear to keep out sound. Each earplug contains a filter that reduces frequencies evenly so it sounds more like turning the sound down instead of muffling it. The tiny filters are interchangeable, and you can pop them in and out of the earplugs easily. There are three filter options: ER-9 filters provide 9 decibels of noise reduction and are good for everyday use. ER-15 filters lower the sound by 15 dB and are good for more intense environments like concerts. ER-25 filters reduce sound by 25 dB and help protect your hearing against prolonged exposure to high noise conditions. (Note: If custom earplugs are too expensive, Dr. Glick recommends ETY-Plugs at around $15. “They are the best over-the-counter plugs you can buy,” she says. “ETY-Plugs are the world’s highest fidelity non-custom earplugs. They reduce most noise to safe levels while preserving clarity of speech and the richness of music.”)
- Be aware of sound levels in your environment. Our ears can tolerate 60-80 decibels without injury, but once sound levels reach 85 dBA (A-weighted decibels), our limit is 8 hours without potential hearing damage; at 88 dBA, 4 hours; and at 91 dBA our ears can only handle 2 hours of exposure without potential damage. Rock concerts, music through headphones at maximum volume, and sporting events average 94-110 dBA, making the possibility of damage likely without protection. Decibel meters are inexpensive and available at Amazon, WalMart and many other retailers.
Hearing aid technology has improved dramatically over the past several years. Dr. Glick says, “This is because of discrete enhanced digital signal processing that adapts automatically to different environments. Hearing aids also have improved user control via apps, better reduction of background noise, and Bluetooth connectivity to our cell phones.”
If you have hearing loss or are starting to experience hearing loss, you have so many more options than you did even a few years ago. And if you don’t have hearing loss, but still like your music loud, there are many ways you can prevent hearing loss. With custom earplugs you can enjoy your rock and roll, while reducing exposure to harmful sound levels, thus preserving your precious gift of hearing.
With age come other causes of hearing loss. But by being proactive, having your hearing tested, monitoring loudness levels, and wearing hearing protection when you can’t control the volume, you can do something to prevent environmental causes of hearing loss.
Contact Dr. Julie Glick with any questions or to make an appointment.
Diana Lucarino-Diekmann, Contributing Writer OGSR