Pipers and Drummers, can you hear me? Are worried about hearing loss?

I wanted to share a wee bit of knowledge on protecting one of your best assets – your hearing!  The topic is a hearing-related condition that has become a serious issue for millions: tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition in which an individual hears a roaring or ringing in the ears. Though a high-pitched ring or a dull roar are the most commonly perceived noises, cases of whistling, buzzing, surf, hissing, humming, music, and even crickets are also numerous.

The trademark of these sounds is that they are almost always subjective; that is, these noises are particular to the individual hearing them, and they cannot be heard by anyone else.

In the rare event that the noise is objective (meaning it can be detected, usually through a stethoscope on the patient’s neck or through a microphone placed inside the ear canal), the perceived sound reported is often a rhythmic, pulsing one, a strong indicator of Pulsatile Tinnitus. (I personally believe I suffer from this in my right ear due to many years of pipe band drumming without earplugs….now I always wear them!)

What causes Tinnitus?

Though theories are numerous, there is no single, absolute cause of tinnitus. However, the number of severely inhibiting cases of tinnitus doubles from the normal adult age bracket to the 61-70 age bracket.3 Since hearing naturally degrades during these years, this drastic increase in the number of cases supports a correlation between tinnitus and hearing loss.

Indeed, noise-induced hearing loss is to blame for the vast majority (90%, according to the ATA) of reported tinnitus cases. In most of these cases, the resulting tinnitus is an immediate, and only temporary, condition. Most people have experienced this type of tinnitus after sustaining hearing damage through exposure to loud sounds like those from a crowd event,a pipe band event, concert, or racetrack, after gunshots, or in other dangerously high-volume conditions. In these situations, though the ringing or buzzing may fade after just a few hours or days, the damage done to the inner ear is permanent — and over time, repeated exposure to damaging sounds can often result in chronic tinnitus that never fades.

Using the right hearing protection during various loud activities can allow you to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss (and tinnitus) without diminishing your enjoyment of those noisy pastimes.

Do you want to protect your ears? Get yourself a pair of earplugs today!



James Laughlin



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