The most challenging issue regarding noise-induced hearing loss is the lack of immediate symptoms. NIHL gradually affects the ability to hear. Symptoms and side-effects are not recognized typically until years later. However, studies show that a loss of hearing leads to an increase in the chances of illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
In the immediate present, damage to one’s ear due to loud noises can impact a college musician both physiologically and psychologically causing:
- The ears’ hair cells (stereocilia) to be bent or broken permanently
- Sound to seem dampened/muffled causing musicians to play sharp/flat
- Missed cues
- Depression from losing a scholarship or not passing
- The trouble with social interactions leading to situations of social isolation
- Loss of cognitive focus
- Drop in grades
OSHA Noise Regulations (Standard 1910.95(b) (1))requires employers to monitor sound if it equals or exceeds 85 decibels and provide individuals with protective equipment such as earplugs or noise-canceling earphones when employees are exposed to noise levels.