Here is one of the many vital reasons why each and every one of us needs to look after and protect our hearing, written by Stu Nunnery for the Hearing Like Me blog.
The lead singer of rock group AC/DC, Brian Johnson, was told recently by his doctors that he risked total hearing loss if he continued to tour and perform with the band. What seemed like an individual musician’s tragic heartbreak has turned into a cause célèbre and is resonating throughout the music industry. And that’s a good thing.
Specifically, Johnson was advised that if he continued to perform at large venues, he risked total deafness. He later told Rolling Stone magazine, “While I was horrified at the reality of the news that day, I had for a time become aware that my partial hearing loss was beginning to interfere with my performance on stage. I am not a quitter and I like to finish what I start, nevertheless, the doctors made it clear to me and my bandmates that I had no choice but to stop performing on stage for the remaining shows and possibly beyond.”
But many things have been said since then, that has brought into view a slew of issues that all musicians, those who listen to music, and those who attend concerts might keep in mind – for the “times, they are a changin’.”
Denials, disclaimers, accusations, medical claims, offers of help and proactive moves have flowed in as a response to the rock singer’s hearing loss predicament. There’s even been some fun thrown his way when it was satirically announced that AC/DC would “replace a singer who could not hear with a singer who could not sing.” (Axl Rose of Guns and Roses)
Later, in an interview with a friend, Johnson claimed that his hearing issues were being blown out of proportion and that he was being unfairly released by the band. Another doctor told him that his hearing damage wasn’t as bad as he was initially led to believe and that he can continue to record in studios and he intends to do that. But the band has said no more. Johnson remains hopeful.
There was also apparently more to the rock singer’s hearing loss story than originally divulged. In a 2014 interview with celebrity interviewer Howard Stern, Johnson dismissed the loud music and the use of cannons as stage props as the cause of his hearing loss. He said that he believed that it was the result of “sitting in a race car too long without earplugs. I heard me eardrum burst, because I forgot to put me plugs in under my helmet. That’s how it happened. Music had nothing to do with it.” When asked about the tinnitus he was experiencing, he told Stern, “Ah, you know, you forget about it after a week.”
What is clear from all this are several things. One, knowing the cause(s) of your hearing loss is important. It’s also important to have a professional diagnose your problem. Have you gotten additional opinions from specialists in the field? Whose opinion will you listen to? Additionally, what methods of treatment are being recommended? How do you know what treatments will work best for you and who should administer them? In short, what is the best strategy to avoid hearing loss and what is the best way to deal with the situation after experiencing hearing loss?
It’s not a simple thing and many musicians, myself included, have experienced their own catastrophic hearing losses at pivotal moments in their careers – whether from loud music, canons on stage, race cars, or the sudden hearing losses that can appear from any number of maladies. I knew I was in trouble during a jingle recording session in 1978 when the hearing in my left ear started cutting out and I began losing correct pitch. It was a quick downhill from there. A year-and-a-half later I had to quit music altogether – with hearing loss in both ears and severe tinnitus. It happened not only at the worst possible time for my musical aspirations, but it was still the “dark ages” in hearing-music research and advances, and I had little help to guide me through the woods.
Today’s circumstances are far better and Johnson may have hope and the help he needs.
And fortunately for all of us, more influential musicians are being proactive to protect themselves and others from the effects of loud music. The band Pearl Jam has joined MusiCares to provide earplugs to all attendees of their upcoming tour. Foundations such as Hear the World also distributes earplugs at live music venues and festivals around the word.
“Don’t be careless and lazy at loud rock shows or cranking tunes through an old Walkman like I was thirty years ago,” said Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament in a statement. “Wear hearing protection or you’ll end up with a 1.5k ring in both ears every night when you go to bed or worse when you are trying to enjoy the serene quiet of an empty desert or forest, again like me.”
Producers and DJ’s who have long understood the benefits of ear protection are also becoming more forthcoming about their own strategies and are helping to identify the wide variety of hearing protection now available.
Out of Johnson’s tragedy may come some very important information we can all pay attention to. As we follow his story it would be a good thing to see ourselves in his position. You don’t have to be a rock star to suffer his fate or the confusion that often follows.
by Stu Nunnery.
As promised at the end of my first article, here is part two of my ‘glue ear’ journey.
I have now had the surgery on my ear (Tuesday 10th May) and have now recovered from the effects of the anaesthesia.
It was an interesting day to be fair… it all started first thing when my brother very kindly took the day off work to drive me the 7 miles to the hospital at 07:30 for an 08:00 appointment. As you can imagine I arrived in good time and was immediately checked in.
I was asked by a hearing aid wearing receptionist, what I was in for? I replied “For my ear” and showed her my other hearing aid clad ear… “Arrr right thank you.” came the reply… I didn’t think much of it at first but every time I was wanted, the nurses came right up to me and tapped me on my shoulder to make me aware of the next step. Never had this happen before – they usually just stand in the corner and speak and hope I hear them (which is hardly ever)
Anyway, I saw the anaesthetist and the surgeon and was given the go ahead to have the procedure.
I was called to go and get changed and I walked to the theatre at 10:05am.
I was then woken up at 12:43pm by one of the nurses who handed me my hearing aid.
I’m not 100% sure what they were doing in my ear all that time. However, I have been told that my eardrum has been removed and a new one put in. It is absolute heaven not to have any pain from it – finally.
Obviously, I won’t know exactly how successful the surgery was until I have the follow up in 3 months’ time… Fingers crossed.
What I can already tell… is the Tinnitus in my right side is now even more annoying! In addition, my voice sort of feels lopsided (if that makes any sense) and I have some issues with dizziness if I stand still… but other than that, I feel fine.🙂
Thanks for reading. X
Here is yet another informative piece regarding tinnitus by the lovely Stu Nunnery, originally written for the awesome Hearing Like Me website.
Those of us with hearing loss and tinnitus may be living at a good time in “hearstory.”
Lately, there has been exciting news about the brain’s ability to adapt (called neuroplasticity) and what that might mean for rehabilitating lost hearing. News is also exploding about the effects of music on the brain, how the brain hears, and the importance of feeding the brain sounds and stimulation – for many good reasons – among them the prevention of dementia and other cognitive disorders.
Now comes news about tinnitus, its connection to brain activity and how understanding and treating that connection might be charting a path to the resolution or cure of the condition.
Research confirms that tinnitus affects the ears, but originates in the brain. Some believe it is mainly triggered by age-related hearing loss and prolonged exposure to excessively loud noise. Other studies target tinnitus as a symptom of abnormal hyperactivity in the brain’s auditory cortex. While there are maskers and more traditional sound therapies for tinnitus. new apps are hitting the market to offer their versions of what is called “notched sound therapy.” One such app that is winning awards and getting a lot of attention is called Tinnitracks – currently available only in Germany.
Tinnitracks claims to to offer a clinically proven therapy for chronic tinnitus. It’s based on research in the fields of neurophysiology and neuroacoustics performed at the Institute for Biosignal Analysis and Biomagnetism by the medical faculty of the University of Muenster, Germany.
“Tinnitus can be triggered by sudden sensorineural hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss,” according to the company’s website. “Such hearing loss reduces the ability to hear sounds in the frequency ranges in which damage has occurred, but also causes a reduced flow of information to the brain’s auditory center. This change in input can cause the brain to shift its healthy balance between nerve signals. This then leads to over activity in certain nerve cells, which manifests itself as tinnitus.”
Tinnitracks claims to treat the cause of the problem through filtered audio therapy (music therapy). The co-founder of the company,Sonormed, Joerg Land, says that Tinnitracks is unique in its musical cure.“We are treating Tinnitus directly in the human brain – you don’t have to go to a clinic, you don’t need special hardware or a hearing aid,” “Tinnitracks is just listening to music: it’s convenient, it’s easy to integrate into your daily life.”
How it works
Tinnitracks claims it “filters the tinnitus tones out of the music that the patient listens to. You are prescribed the correct frequency for your tinnitus, and you use the app for 90 minutes a day, over at least 4 months. The auditory cortex in human brain is like a piano,” Land explains. “Every frequency sits next to the other, and we just cut out the tones that are the tones of the patient’s tinnitus to have silence in this area. Over time the neighboring nerve cells will lower the hyperactivity of the tinnitus frequencies, and the perceived loudness of the disturbing sound. Essentially, it takes three steps: select music files from your personal collection, filter tinnitus frequencies then upload a personalized track to an MP3 player to start therapy.”
Tinnitracks further claims that it is most effective for those 18-60 who have a tinnitus frequency no higher than 8,500 Hertz (8,5 kHz) and a hearing loss less than 65 dB HL. The online app is sold with a year license that runs $584US, but the company expects to launch a new version that will be about $20US a month.
OK, just what is notched sound therapy? Here an excellent link but note that the source, Audio Notch, is one of the notched sound therapy apps currently on the market as well.
Does notched sound therapy work?
To repeat the summary: “given the positive evidence at hand, while promising, more research needs to be done on Notched Sound Therapy to determine its efficacy and recommend it as a standard clinical treatment for tinnitus: There is not yet enough evidence to support that such a form of treatment is ready for clinical implication.”
Meanwhile there are other sound treatment options on the market you can try, some more affordable than others.
AudioNotch – makes similar claims to those of Tinnitracks and is available for $8-$20 per month.
The Paxx100 by The Tinnitus Lab
Whist Tinnitus Relief
As for Tinnitracks, they have begun a partnership with a private healthcare company and plan to approach the FDA to make Tinnitracks available in the US. Good luck. “Getting into the health system, it’s a nightmare,” said Land. “The market is not made for digital solutions, there are a lot of regulations around data and security,” he explained. ”
I‘m excited by the notched sound therapy approach as well as other sound therapies but considering the dearth of reliable data, the varying prices, and the lack of patient reviews, I remain skeptical about many of the claims. For now. What do you think? Are you using one of these therapies now? Would you be willing to give one of them a try?
by Stu Nunnery.
“Ishaare” has a double meaning: it means “gestures” in Hindi and Marathi, but it also means “signs”, as such indicating that there cannot be made a strict distinction between them. However, whilst there seems to be overlap between gestures and sign language, they differ too, as the protagonists of the movie show and tell us. The film “Ishaare” documents how six deaf signers communicate with familiar and unfamiliar hearing shopkeepers, street vendors, customers, waiters, ticket conductors and fellow travellers in Mumbai. Reena and Pradip, who is deaf blind, go grocery shopping along local streets, in markets and in shops. Sujit, our guide throughout the movie, communicates in public transport. Mahesh is a retail businessman who sells stocks of pens to stationery shops. Komal runs an accessory shop with her husband Sanjay, where most customers are schoolgirls. Durga is the manager of a branch of Café Coffee Day, an upmarket coffee chain. When enquiring, selling, bargaining and chitchatting, these deaf and hearing people use gestures and signs, and they also lipread, mouthe, read and write in different spoken languages. In the film, they share how they experience these ways of communication.”
A film directed by Annalies Kusters.
SJ passed on a link to a very insightful blog, to our Facebook group and we liked it so much, that we think it deserves to be shared with everyone else.
The writer in this blog has remained very realistic about cochlear implants, which is very close to our readers’ experiences also.
It is somewhat dejecting to realise that the media has not been able to grasp the whole truth concerning CI’s – they give the impression that we will be able to hear perfectly well, almost instantly upon activation whereas that is not the case for most, if not all, of those who were inplanted.