[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
At the risk of sounding like Grandpa Simpson, please turn it down.
My career in radio spans more than 40 years as a radio host, writer, reporter, and interviewer. To say that sound and audio are my life would not be far from the truth, since I spend most of my time listening and turning all that I hear to tell stories to radio listeners and podcast listeners around the world. I have always been deeply obsessed with good audio, partly because I’m a huge music fan but mostly because I make my living through sound.
As an audiophile geek, I can’t imagine a life without the gift of sound and music. But I know that as I get older, hearing is one of those things that starts to decline for many of us, even if it’s in small ways. It can happen gradually as part of the aging process or can be caused by trauma or prolonged exposure to high levels of sound.
Take musicians. Some of the biggest names in music, from Beethoven to Pete Townshend to Trent Reznor and Chris Martin, have reported having at least some hearing loss or tinnitus (the perception of noise like ringing in your ears). According to the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a non-profit funder of hearing research in the U.S., musicians are four times as likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss than the general public. The percentage is higher for tinnitus, which can interfere with your hearing but is not necessarily a precursor to hearing loss. Still, it can be enough to drive you to madness.
But you don’t have to be a musician for loud music to damage your hearing. HHF reports that there’s evidence that loud rock music, and the use of personal listening devices with earphones, can also take a lot of the blame for the rest of us.