A new study has found that facing upto fourfold risk of noise induced hearing loss is an occupational hazard for professional musicians.
Noise induced deafness can be caused by sudden very loud noise, such as an explosion or gunfire, but it may also develop gradually as a result of repeated exposure to loud noise, suggested the study authors.
They base their findings on data from 3 statutory health insurance providers containing the details of 7 million German citizens between 2004 and 2008.
Among the 3 million people who were aged between 19 and 66, in employment, and making social insurance contributions to cover health and social care, some 2227 were professional musicians.
During the 4 year study period, just under 284,000 cases of hearing loss were registered on the database, slightly more of them among men than women, overall.
In all, 238 cases were among professional musicians, who were more likely to live in cities.
Hearing loss becomes more common with age, but after adjusting for this and other influential factors, such as sex and population density, professional musicians were still more likely to have noise induced hearing loss than the general public.
They were almost four times as likely to have some level of deafness and 57 percent more likely to have tinnitus.
Professional musicians should be given protective in-ear devices, whether they are playing in rock bands or orchestras, and whenever sound amplifiers are used, in a bid to reduce the risk, they suggest. Sound shields should also be installed between different sections of an orchestra.
The study is published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.