By Becca Atwood
Going to concerts is the thing to do if you love music-plain and simple. There are hundreds of fans just like you. They love the same music you do, and maybe they have the same style as you. There are loud speakers that damage your hearing-and you love it! You don’t care. Hearing loss is for squares, you may say. But let’s see what the loudspeakers do inside the ear.
The loudspeakers are at full volume. You can feel the speaker vibrate because it’s so loud. What is that doing to your hearing?
Any kind of loud music can cause temporary and permanent hearing loss. Constant loud music and noise that goes on for long periods of time can cause deafness. If a noise is so loud that you have to shout to make yourself heard, which happens a lot or when you go to a concert, over time the inner ear will be injured.
The ear has three areas: the outer (visible part of the ear), middle, and inner ear. A thin membrane, called the eardrum (tympanic membrane), divides the middle and outer ear. When we hear, sound vibrations, or sound waves, go through the outer ear and down the ear (auditory) canal, where the sounds hit the eardrum, and cause the eardrum to vibrate.
These vibrations are passed through the three small bones in the middle ear – the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil), and stapes (stirrups). From the middle ear, the sound vibrations are transmitted to the inner ear (vestibule). Tiny hairs in the cochlea (a snail-shaped organ in the inner ear) transform the sound vibrations into nerve impulses. The impulses are transmitted to the brain through the auditory (cochlear) nerve. Over time, the tiny hairs will be damaged and your hearing will decrease dramatically.
Some symptoms of hearing loss are ringing in the ears, buzzing, or clicking. If you are sensing any of these, you most likely have damaged your ears. These symptoms can occur after the music has stopped.
Are concerts worth the risk of hearing loss? That is a decision you’ll have to make.