Musicians are at increased risk of noise induced deafness, study findsBMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3014 (Published 01 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3014
Professional musicians are almost four times as likely to develop noise induced hearing loss as the general public, a cohort study of three million German citizens has found.
Musicians are also 57% more likely to develop tinnitus, according to the research, published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.1
The researchers examined data from three German statutory health insurance providers between 2004 and 2008. Of the three million people aged between 19 and 66 years in employment and making social insurance contributions, 2227 were professional musicians. During the study period 283 697 cases of hearing loss were newly diagnosed, 238 of them among professional musicians (0.08%).
Hearing loss becomes more common with age, but after adjusting for this and other factors such as sex and population density, musicians had a 3.51-fold higher incidence of noise induced hearing loss (95% confidence interval 2.82 to 4.21) and a 1.45 higher incidence of tinnitus than the general population (1.29 to 1.61).
The authors point out that the category of professional musician is quite diverse and includes instrumental musicians as well as singers, conductors, and composers so the risk may be underestimated. They call for professional musicians to be given protective in-ear devices whenever sound amplifiers are used and for sound shields to be installed between different sections of an orchestra in order to reduce the long term risks of developing hearing disorders.
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3014