What? Avoiding and Treating Hearing Loss

Conference Panels

What? Avoiding and Treating Hearing Loss

Austin Convention Center, Thursday 14 Joni Mitchell said it best when she sang, "You don't know what you got when it's gone," and that couldn't be more accurate in terms of the delicate mechanisms that carry sound to your brain. Once your hearing is shot, that's it, and that can often mean the end of a musician's career. When you put your eardrums and middle ear into overdrive, you shear off the hair cells in your cochlea, which are then unable to regenerate. Audiologists Marilee Chartier and Bob Santucci emphasized the importance of education in order to protect and conserve the only hearing you've got. Factors that contribute to hearing loss include proximity, loudness levels, duration of exposure to loud sounds, reverberation, and susceptibility. Other factors that exacerbate hearing loss include aspirin, smoking cigarettes, drinking, caffeine -- anything that restricts blood flow to the inner ear. That's not very rock & roll, but neither is making a horrible social gaffe while being interviewed by Jay Leno. Chartier and Santucci lamented the fact that the 7,000 audiologists in the U.S. aren't as committed to education as they should be, but also stated that the ultimate responsibility for hearing conservation belongs to the individual. The boundaries between education and commerce were then blurred, as Santucci, founder of Sensaphonics Hearing Conservation, sang the praises of custom ear protection (approx. $170), which protect your ears more effectively than cotton balls without blocking out as much sound as regular foam earplugs. The moral of the story, of course, is that musicians, sound engineers, and music journos should take their hearing as seriously as their careers, otherwise they won't be able to hear the response to "You want fries with that?"

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