Noise in ears
Originally Published: March 22, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: February 6, 2004
I have a question for you. I am a DJ and every saturday I work in a disco. After doing this for some days I can hear a noise in my ears (especially in the one where I wear the headphone). Is this dangerous? How may I help it?
The noise you describe in your ears following your DJ gigs is probably tinnitus, which can occur from sudden or prolonged exposure to very loud noise...pumped-up headphones included. This noise is usually a ringing, buzzing, or other sound that is present when there is no environmental noise. Tinnitus results from impulses that are sent to the brain, not from vibrations created by external sounds, but from within the brain or ear itself. The reasons for this abnormal auditory transmission are poorly understood. Tinnitus is almost always associated with some hearing loss, and can also result from other conditions, like ear wax build-up, that result in blockages.
One's awareness of her/his tinnitus condition has much to do with her/his ability to cope with it. Some people get used to it over time, while others rely on constant radio, television, and white noise machines to drown out their internal noise.
If your hearing distortion continues, Alice recommends seeing your health care provider or an ear/hearing specialist. You can also get more information on tinnitus and other hearing-related concerns by calling the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse at (800) 231-1044. Since your situation is job-related, you can also try the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at (202) 219-8148.
Alice is sometimes a fan of high-volume music, whether it comes by concert or through headphones. Your question serves as a reminder to all high-volume enthusiasts that the ear is an extremely sensitive organ that requires gentle treatment. Sensory hearing loss, which includes tinnitus, is not treatable with medicine or surgical procedures, so prevention is the best way to avoid many auditory ailments. Would it be possible for you to wear earplugs along with your headphones as a way to muffle the music from both the speakers and headset? Would cranking the volume down a couple of notches detract from the event? Could you use some pre-mixed tapes to reduce your need for cueing through your headphones? Alice hopes these ideas come in soft and clear.