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mirifique's avatar

Are there any singers here who have had ear pain due to singing loudly?

Asked by mirifique (1540points) November 1st, 2009

I sing quite loudly when I play the guitar and sometimes this results in a dull pain in one or both of my ears; I’ve seen an otolaryngologist who recommended I get special molded musicians’ earplugs which attenuate the volume without compromising the timbre and quality of the sound. However I’m not really sure how this possible since singing, as opposed to instrumental noise, is conducted through the jawbone and to the eardrum directly. I’m curious if there are any vocalists/singers on here who have experienced a similar problem. It is very depressing to me because I am a loud singer—it’s the only way I actually sound good. However I’m not sure if there is a real solution here besides singing quieter. (The otolaryngologist didn’t seem too bothered by the problem; perhaps I should see another one.) Has anyone found a solution to this? Google is coming up empty for me. Thanks, in advance.

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6 Answers

JONESGH's avatar

This doesn’t happen to me…are you sure it’s not just upper jaw pain?

pinkparaluies's avatar

My DJ friend gets a lot of ear aches from having headphones on with too much base. Maybe its something like this?

mirifique's avatar

@pinkparaluies That sounds similar. I used to get it from headphones, too; had to stop that. But this will happen from literally 20 seconds of loud singing, whereas the headphone-induced pain was after an hour or so.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’ve never had this problem but then again, most of what I sing on a regular basis is classical anyway and I have never used an earpiece. However, like @JONESGH mentioned I have had jaw ache before.

JLeslie's avatar

You should ask Hearkat.

hearkat's avatar

Thanks, @JLeslie! The Question was directed to me, but I haven’t had a chance to answer until now.

@mirifique: I am an Audiologist. My Bachelor’s degree is in Speech Pathology, and I have been singing since early childhood (although I have not performed in decades).

My impression thus far is similar to what @JONESGH suggests… jaw (TMJ) pain that is felt in the ears because the ear canal is directly where the upper and lower jaw meet.

Human voices can barely reach levels that will cause physical pain to the ears with just a few seconds of exposure. Levels that are damaging to the sensory structures in the inner ear are considerably softer than physical pain levels. Musician’s earplugs will evenly attenuate sounds to safer intensities. Ear-level monitors are for using when you are singing through a sound system and need to hear yourself and the other musicians.

I am surprised that the ENT did not check you for TMJ issues. You may not even have a significant problem just yet, but if you are opening your mouth very wide while singing, it could potentially be a problem down the road. You may want to discuss this with your dentist, too.

In addition, the ENT should have warned you about the dangers of vocal cord damage from singing too loudly. If you want to enjoy singing well into the future, as well as adding better expressiveness and versatility to your voice, I recommend working with a voice coach.

If you have any other questions, or want to add any additional details about your symptoms and history, please do so. I hope this helps!

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