A large-scale study, published in online journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, has found that professional musicians are four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss than non-musicians. The study has also found they are 57 per cent more likely to develop tinnitus.
The research, covering a four-year period from 2004 to 2008, is based on data given to health insurance providers in Germany by three million people. All were in employment and aged between 19 and 66, and 2,227 were musicians, both in rock bands and in orchestras.
It has long been known that prolonged exposure to industrial noise is detrimental to hearing, but other published studies have found that frequent exposure to music can actually increase hearing sensitivity.
However, the new data suggests ‘that in professional musicians the risks of music-induced hearing loss outweigh the potential benefits for hearing ability’.
The report concludes: ‘Given the number of professional musicians and the severity of the outcome, leading to occupational disability and severe loss of quality of life, hearing loss in [this group] is of high public health importance.’