Do I have your attention? Good. Because leaving your ear canals exposed to excessive sound pressure levels (dBs) even ONCE can cause PERMANENT damage to your hearing … just like having unprotected sex just ONCE can lead to PERMANENT consequences.
Don’t believe me? Go talk to a pregnant high school girl. Or, better yet, someone who has contracted a sexually-transmitted disease that they will live with the rest of their life. Wondering how this relates to your hearing? Read the rest of this post, or go read about these musicians who spend every minute of their lives struggling to hear everyday sounds and/or deal with the constant, maddening frustration of noises in their head:
The condition that causes the perception of ringing in the ears is called “tinnitus.” You can read more about that here:
The reason I am writing this post is because, once again, I have been forced into the awkward position of defending my use of earplugs when I play drums. At various times over the years, I have posted a brief statement on Facebook or Twitter about the effects of constant noise exposure, the permanent damage it can cause, and my deep regret every time I fail to wear them (or intentionally choose not to). In fact, one of the “more recent” posts about it, exists here:
Earplugs are condoms for my ears. Choosing to drum without "protection" can have severe consequences. Yet, I continue to take chances. Dumb.
and states: “Drumming without earplugs is like having sex without a condom. It’s fun in the moment, but the long term implications can be severe. Time to stop being stupid.”
The fact that I even have to defend the protection of my own body parts in order to earn a little money from my craft just seems ludicrous to me. These days, EVERY TIME I choose to pull my earplugs out of my ears at a gig, I regret it later. I have had a tough enough time being as disciplined as I have been with it, so I certainly don’t need the peer pressure of someone trying to convince me to “expose my holes” to the potentially-hazardous dBs assaulting my inner ear. I’ve had my share of ringing in the ears, and finally developed a mild, permanent ring on the right side within the past year or two. I say “right side,” because to me it’s not really in the “right ear,” it’s more like in the right “half” of my brain.
Regardless, I would like to play drums (and enjoy music … and conversation) for as long as possible. I am only 51 years old (in a few days), and I don’t feel like spending decades of my life regretting my actions (or lack thereof). I do that enough already. So, when you consider that damage can occur with only ONE instance of exposure to excessive SPL, and repeated exposure to even mild SPL, why take chances? Protect your holes! No one else can or will.
So, whether I’m having sex with you or just playing drums for you, I *AM* going to wear protection. It’s like Steely Dan said, “I’m never gonna do it without the fez on.”