-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Budding musicians, listen
up: Out of all the instruments in the orchestra pit, the brass
French horn is the one most likely to hurt your ears, according to
Say what? Professional French horn players are at risk for
noise-induced hearing loss and should take steps to protect their
ears, according to the study by at least one researcher with a
personal stake in preserving musicians' hearing.
Australian researchers assessed the hearing of 144 professional
French horn players and found that 11 percent to 22 percent of them
showed some form of noise-induced hearing loss, according to the
findings recently published online in the
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
"Looking at those aged 40 years or younger and also correcting for age, the number of horn players with an apparent hearing loss rose to between 17 percent and 33 percent," study author Ian O'Brien, a doctoral degree candidate at the University of Sydney and a professional French horn player, said in a journal news release.
The results provide further evidence that French horn players
are among the professional orchestra musicians most at risk for
developing noise-induced hearing loss, according to the
French horn players described their hearing protection practices
to researchers as part of the study.
"We were surprised to find that only 18 percent of participants reported using any form of hearing protection," lead investigator Wayne Wilson, a senior lecturer in audiology at the University of Queensland, said in the news release.
"Even within that 18 percent, the use of hearing protection appears to be inadequate with 81 percent of these participants reporting their frequency of use as 'sometimes' and 50 percent reporting they use generic, foam or other inferior forms of protection," Wilson noted.
The findings "reinforce the need to educate horn players, their
mentors and audiologists about the need to protect hearing and how
best to achieve this while still enabling musicians to play to the
highest level," professional musician O'Brien said.
While the study found evidence of hearing loss in some
professional horn players, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
"Even mild hearing loss can result in difficulties discriminating pitch, abnormal loudness growth and tinnitus, all of which can affect a musician's ability to perform, subsequently jeopardizing his or her livelihood," O'Brien explained.
The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication
Disorders has more about
noise-induced hearing loss.
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