01 Aug Rock and Roll may be good for the soul, but not the ears.
As rock legends KISS return to Halifax to rock the Halifax Metro Center this evening, concert goers are getting excited to see the iconic rock band return to the stage. Known for their black and white facepaint and their elecrtifying sound, their nickname, “The Gods of Thunder”, may be bad news for your ears.
Exposure to excessively loud sounds can lead to a temporary (sometimes permanent) ringing in the ears, and/or a temporary reduction in hearing. The temporary decline in hearing is called a temporary threshold shift.
Temporary Thresholds Shifts have long been considered a sign of hearing damage caused by noise exposure. However, research in mice has suggested that this temporary threshold shift may be the ear’s way of protecting itself to damage by the loud noise.
An international team of researchers reports that when mice are exposed to loud noise, their inner ears release a chemical that causes a temporary reduction in hearing sensitivity (determined by monitoring electrical signals in their brains). As in humans, this change in sensitivity can last for more than 24 hours, says Gary Housley, chairman of physiology at Australia’s University of New South Wales and lead author of the study.
But mice bred to lack the receptor for this chemical showed no change in hearing sensitivity in response to loud noise. “It was really remarkable that hours of sound at that quite high level had no effect on the hearing at all,” says Housley.
This reserach suggests that temporary loss of sensitivity to loud noise can be beneficial, as it protects the inner ear from more serious, long-lasting damage.
However, just because your ears are protecting themselves from noise, does not mean that it is safe to blast the rock music all night. Just because you are hearing it at a reduced level, doesn’t mean that the actual sound level has been changed; it can still be damaging.
Any excessive noise levels can lead to permanent reduction in hearing and/or tinnitus. When attending concerts, it is recommended to enjoy them while wearing hearing protection. Custom made protection will still allow you to experience the concert, but the reduction in volume will ensure you are able to enjoy many concerts in the future.