An article recently publish by Toppila et al relates to a Finnish study of 63 musicians from four Helsinki classical orchestras in relation to the incidence of noise induced hearing loss, or indeed any hearing loss, when comparing those individuals with non-noise exposed members of the general population.
The study found, interestingly, that despite the musicians being routinely exposed to varying levels of noise between 83 and 98 decibels and considerable amounts of time in rehearsal and performance, there was no increased incidence of hearing loss in the sample studied than in non-noise exposed individuals.
Notwithstanding these results, it is pointed out that hearing loss is to a degree dependent on exposure to noise but that account must also be taken of other risk factors, such as coexposure to organic solvents and heavy metals, smoking, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and exposure to ototoxic substances and drugs.
It was therefore concluded that the incidence of hearing loss in the musicians studied was so low because of the reduced exposure they had to environmental factors such as solvents and heavy metals, and also a healthier lifestyle and greater physical fitness than in industry where individuals were exposed to noise.
It was also noted in the results of the study that whilst classical musicians did not have a higher degree of hearing loss than non-noise exposed individuals, they do suffer from a higher rate of tinnitus and hyperacusis.
One might therefore suggest that the effects of noise upon classical musicians are greater as noise induced hearing loss is often a more manageable condition than tinnitus or hyperacusis.
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