Most of us here work on music in our home studios, and use head phones at least some of the time. And I am rather sure most of us know that one needs to be careful about listening to music for long periods on head phones, especially at anything above a modest DB level.
But is everyone as aware of how quickly our hearing can be impaired by wax build up?
Since I was a child, my system has produced ear wax at an unusually fast and prolific rate. In grade school a teacher thought I was going deaf, so I was taken to a doctor and he was shocked how plugged up my ears were. Ever since, I've struggled with the problem. Normal preventative measures aren't enough for me, I have to have professional help with this every few years.
For 10 years now, though, I've also been suffering these periodic bouts of extreme pain in one ear. Somehow, the doctors I went to couldn't figure out what was causing this. Finally, this month, I've gone to a new doctor who was recommended to me, and he immediately deduced that this excruciating ear pain which has come and gone for a decade is directly related to my fast wax build up problem. Doesn't seem like it would take a medical Sherlock to figure that out, but there ya go.
It's taken two visits, each 1 1/2 hours in duration, for the doctor to clear out my ear canals. Despite having my ears cleaned over the years, the doctors I'd been going to had never been doing a very thorough job. What this new doctor encountered was ancient and extremely tenacious wax which had attached itself to the skin of the ear canal, and was threatening damage to my ear drum. In the ear with the recurring stabbing pain, this huge build up was pressing against nerves.
Not an extremely pleasant subject. BUT the point is, that everyone has wax build up in their ears, just not as pronounced as what I've had. Particularly as musicians, we owe it to ourselves to keep our ears as clear as possible. You may not have a problem as severe as mine, but even a mild build up in your ear canals changes the way you hear things--frequencies are thinned out and/or distorted, filtered by the wax.
Right now I am living in a VERY LOUD WORLD!---I haven't heard so well in many many years--I have a headache, I'm a bit dizzy, and even relatively quiet sounds like folding a paper bag--typing on these computer keys--are sounding SO loud to me. I'm inside a super sensitive microphone, picking up and amplifying Everything. I'm Superman over-hearing what's going on several blocks away.
And naturally, music I'm working on is sounding completely different. It'll take time to adapt and figure out if I've been over compensating with my EQs because of this ear problem.
The doctor said he was surprised I had any hearing left, by the way--and that I certainly didn't come to him a moment too soon.
Lesson--Simple: Clean your ears! It's an inspiring, romantic notion to picture Beethoven composing his masterpieces when he'd lost most of his hearing---but we don't need to admire him so much as to invite our own loss of hearing! But that's what we're doing when we ignore even a mild build up inside our precious ears.
Alex--You'll be happy to heed the warning and get to your doctor. Our ears are pretty tough and can endure a lot--like mine have been messed up for YEars but it looks like there's no permanent damage. BUT of course you want to hear as clearly as possible, and there is always the chance that you could be contributing to future hearing loss, so GOod deal--glad you caught my message and want to do something about it.
Good thing they didn't find any spiders in there. I'm glad your hearing has been restored, that's fantastic news. I'll have to go have mine checked, my right ear seems to be not as good as my left. I switched sides on my headphones to see if it was me or the headphones, and it's not the headphones.
I once had an ear infection that persited through two prescriptions of antibiotics. When I returned to the doc to get some more, he said he can't give me anymore, because it's dangerous to aquire an immunity to antibiotics.
He said I have to start drinking a ton of water, said carry bottled water with you and drink it constantly. He explaned it would keep the ears flushed out and keep the bad stuff moving out, continually replaced by new moisture. It worked, in a few days no more pain. Maybe that would help yours.