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Professional musicians face greater risk of hearing problems

2014 Dave Bennett / PRNewswire 2014 Dave Bennett / PRNewswire

THURSDAY, May 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Professional musicians face a nearly four times greater risk of developing hearing loss compared to the rest of the public, according to new research.

Musicians are also 57 percent more likely to develop ringing in the ears -- known as tinnitus -- because of their exposure to loud noise, suggests the study published online April 30 in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

The authors of the new report reached their conclusions after reviewing the medical records of 3 million Germans aged 19 to 66. The records, collected from 2004 to 2008, included data on 2,227 professional musicians.

Among nearly 284,000 cases of hearing loss overall, 238 professional musicians experienced some degree of hearing loss.

The link between being a professional musician and developing hearing loss held up even after researchers adjusted their statistics so they wouldn't be skewed by age or gender.

The researchers noted that previous studies had suggested that people with long-term music exposure had increased hearing sensitivity, such as the ability to hear a full range of sound.

"Our data suggest that in professional musicians the risks of music-induced hearing loss outweigh the potential benefits for hearing ability, as reported by [other researchers]," wrote the authors in a journal news release. "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."

The researchers suggested professional musicians use protective devices to help save their hearing.

More information

For more about hearing loss, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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