The Sound Barrier

It’s refreshing to see journalists in the Weekend Australian article “The Sound Barrier” addressing the question of why we are letting our musicians go deaf for a living. So often this horrifying truth is blatantly ignored! The article advocates musicians wearing earplugs to reduce damage and refers to a UK campaign called “Plug ‘em”. You can read the full article here

Interestingly, two questions are glaringly missing from this piece.

One, if musicians plug their ears so they can continue to blast out sound at 120 decibels, what about all the concert goers? The article quotes a researcher who states that “hearing damage is cumulative and occurs over a long period of time.”  It acknowledges that “when we are exposed to loud environments over a period of time we lose fractions of percentage points with each exposure,” and states that “a cruel fact of human life (is) that as our hearing degrades, that full range can never be regained.”

So, regular concert goers are also losing a percentage of their hearing at each gig they attend and increasing their risk of tinnitus. I find it ironic that suggestions are made for musicians to wear earplugs, and this is also encouraged for concert goers, but no one is suggesting we simply TURN DOWN THE VOLUME!

Sadly, when I have occasionally had the gall to suggest this to the sound engineers who actually hold the controls, they just stare at me blankly. They themselves are often the deafest of all, and are hell bent it seems on making everyone else the same!

There are warnings now for headphones users, but what about concert venues, where the participants do not have control of their own sound levels?

The assumption has been enshrined in the cult of “cool”, that rock music must be loud to be enjoyed, but this is a dangerous conspiracy of the young against the old, (including their future selves) who must then live with ringing ears for the last several decades of their lives!

The other omission in the article was any discussion of treatment and rehabilitation.

For some reason, it seems one of the most loved statements by doctors and audiologists alike is to tell patients with tinnitus that they will just have to learn to live with it. Now, learning to live with it is good advice, in a sense, because the more you worry about it the worse it seems.

However, to deny that there is any treatment, and – with the medical authority invested in the role -thereby discourage any further search for therapy, seems cruel and has led many people into despair and depression. Because of this, tinnitus sufferers coming to Sound Therapy much first be convinced that their previous information was incorrect before they can begin to conceive that Sound Therapy may help.

It is over thirty years since brain plasticity was definitively proved by Merzenich’ experiments on monkey fingers, yet most practitioners still do not advise patients of how this discovery can be applied to tinnitus by remapping the brain pathways with sound.

This, of course, is what we are doing with Sound Therapy and is one of our explanations for why it often brings relief for tinnitus sufferers. In tinnitus, the neural pathways are repetitively firing, creating the experience of noise when there is none. Remapping and normalizing the pathways in the auditory system can interrupt and stop that firing and the phantom noise it generates. While some listeners will only get partial relief and a reduction in the pitch or tone of the sound, there have also been numerous cases of total relief even for long-term, chronic tinnitus, even when caused by long-term music exposure or industrial or military damage.

Fiona Horne, former lead singer of the band Deaf FX, and now a resident of Los Angeles, stated “Using Sound Therapy has brought me remarkable peace – of ears and mind!  After extensive damage due to a long career performing in a loud rock band, I thought I would never hear ‘silence’ again.  My tinnitus used to sound like a whining kettle going off inside my head which made me always tense and uncomfortable.  With regular use of Sound Therapy, I no longer notice any annoying whistle.  If I am exposed to a new loud sound (for example loud music in a club without earplugs) I might hear that ‘kettle’ again the next morning, but a few days relaxing with Sound Therapy morning and night takes care of it.  My favorite place to use it is in bed as I am reading a book – it’s very soothing. Sound Therapy is easy and convenient, and it works.”

While drummer Alex Scripps who acquired a constant, high pitched whining tinnitus after a few years in the music industry describes his experience like this: “I had a couple of days where I felt really drained and I couldn’t do anything, just felt completely shattered. Then my energy level started going up and I stopped getting the ringing in my ears. Now I’d have to be in a super quiet room for me to hear a very, very slight rustle.”

You can see our special coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald for Hearing Awareness Week here  Treatment strikes a chord with sufferers

It is no longer true that tinnitus sufferers’ only option is to learn to live with it. When the ears are ringing, they are telling us there is a problem in the auditory pathways and calling out for treatment and relief. Those who choose to listen to Sound Therapy get not just relief of tinnitus, but better hearing in background noise, better energy levels, better sleep, increased inner calm and a more integrated and peaceful state of inner wellbeing.

Read more tinnitus testimonials here

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