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Custom ear plugs

Vvc

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Rugby
Looking for advice please. I am a beginner. I started learning last year. I am not a loud player but a few days ago after a practice session I had whistling in my right ear. This whistling went on until the next day. In fact it woke me up in the middle of the night! My ear still feels a bit funny almost a week later. Maybe I have sensitive ears? It has really worried me as I love learning the saxophone.

I have booked myself in for a hearing test. I don't play with any band but I am worried that if solo practice can cause a problem then playing with others might be too much. So, I am thinking of getting custom earplugs.

I have bought some off the shelf acs pacato 16 earplugs as a temporary measure and they don't make much difference to sound levels. Would 17db custom earplugs be too much of a reduction in sound levels for practising? If I want to play along to a cd backing track will I still be able to hear it clearly with a 17db reduction?
 

Ivan

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I would look for other reasons for the whistling in one ear... any chance you could interest your GP or practice nurse or equivalent to look for wax? If this was a decibel problem I'd expect it to happen in both ears
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Agree with Ivan, get professional advice.
 

Vvc

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Hi, thanks for the advice. It would be good if it was something easy like earwax. I have already booked an appointment to see an audiologist at specsavers.
 

nigeld

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I am not an expert of any sort, but I wonder if the problem could be due to air pressure in the mouth and a partially blocked Eustacian tube. If so, then ear plugs won't make any difference. Have you had a cold or a bunged up nose?
 

Vvc

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Rugby
No I haven't had a cold or a bunged up nose.

Shortly, before the whistling started I had been practising playing higher notes and using the palm keys and it felt like my ears needed to pop but they didn't! I then went on to listen to some Art Pepper and Paul Desmond and the whistling in my ears played in time with them! It drove me nuts. I'm worried that i might have damaged something though it does seem to have settled down today and I have enjoyed my practicising.

Really, I would like to know if using 17db reduction earplugs is over the top for practice sessions.

Thanks for your concern.
 

spike

Old Indian
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Make an appointment with a good Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.
In my experience wind players will/can experience problems with - and a degeneration of - their hearing over time.
See @Targa above: Specsavers will sell you - a good ENT specialist will advise you.
Your whole breathing and hearing systems are linked closely together.
As a wind player you subject this system to abnormal amounts of pressure.
And as a musician playing in a live sitiuation your hearing system is very often subject to very high air pressures.
Just be careful and seek professional advice.
 

Pete Thomas

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In my experience wind players will/can experience problems with - and a degeneration of - their hearing over time.

I suffer from tinnitus, it comews and goes but is often there and very annoying. I have seen audiologists and recently an ENT consultant. My issue is a combination of wax buildup and occupational hearing loss.

The wax buildup is manageable but ear syringing is a nono as it can lead to infections easily if moisture gets trapped in there., I recommend microsuction, but you need someone good to do it. Best thing is disciplined use of eardrops which theoretically dissolve and help the wax to dissipate. Olive oil in my case is not good due the narrow ear canals, it just seems to make itb worse. Hydrogen peroxidse works brilliantly but causes irritation. Sodium bicarbonate seems to be the best overall solution.

The ENT consultant sent me for a brain scan, as sometimes tinnitus can be cause by something more sisnister, luckily nothing bad in my brain.

The occupational hearing loss is just something that the ENT consultant says he sees all the time with musicians and military. If I knew then what I know now I would have used earplugs when standing close to hihats.

The hearing loss is not bad, you might think as a musoc producer it would be disastrous, but as a lot of my work goes to a dedicated mastering studio, I am able to get a second (and highly expert) opinion on my mixes. Last time I asked the mastering engineer if he had to "repair" anything in my mixes he said no need to, and that the human brain can somehow compensate for loss of certain frequencies and that it is very common amongst engineers and producers - just that they don't like to admit it - and is often not a problem. Which in my case I am happy about.

However I would now recommend anyone working in mjusic to use earplugs. Not the ones that are just a ball of wax but the ones that filter out just the harmful frequencies. They cost about £15 a pair, but if I would consider custom made ones also.

To Vvc -normal practising of the saxophone shouldn't cause such issues, it is more in a band situation that you get the problems IMO so I would definitely see a GP and if necesssary get referred to a specialist.
 

Colin the Bear

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Tinnitus, the curse of the...er...mature. I'm lucky enough to have a whistle at concert A. Handy for tuning up but annoying when playing in flat keys. In my local bar they have a vinyl DJ from time to time. The older end tend to move next door. The consensus being it sets off our tinnitus. :old:
 

Vvc

New Member
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Rugby
Thanks for all of the advice. The hearing test i am having at specsavers is actually the NHS one. They have a contract to do nhs tests free of charge and it is carried out by a fully trained audiologist. It takes approximately 1 hour to do. I will definitely go see my GP if they find anything wrong.

Again, thanks for all this advice. It is much appreciated.
 

Veggie Dave

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Your hearing can also be affected by medication. When it comes to possible side effects of something you're taking/been prescribed, talk to your pharmacist - they are far more informed than your doctor.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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I've posted a thread about custom-made ear-plugs in the last few weeks. I very occasionally get a 'whistle' fortunately it doesn't usually last long (and I've had it sporadically since I was a child). I doubt if playing on your own is too big an issue - but you're going down the right route of getting checked...
 

Targa

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Your hearing can also be affected by medication. When it comes to possible side effects of something you're taking/been prescribed, talk to your pharmacist - they are far more informed than your doctor.
Both of them will be relying on the information given by the manufacturer which is included in the box or to put it in the usual manner 'if all else fails read the instructions'.
 
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