Saturday, May 28, 2022

Is Headbanging Music Bad for Your Health?

Man holding head in pain after banging head

The short answer is: probably.

But it’s not the music per se, it’s how you listen to it.

Head banging music may be rock, punk, or heavy metal, to which listeners swing their heads, often quite fast, along with the beat of the song.

Loud music can damage your hearing in many ways. It can damage or destroy the hair cells that allow us to detect sound. Damaged hair cells cause temporary hearing loss. After a loud concert you may need to have people speak loudly so you can hear them. You may have a sense of ringing in your ears. This goes away eventually, but repeated damage will cause hair cells to die, causing permanent hearing loss.

Loud noises can also damage the auditory nerve that carries messages from your ear to your brain, causing a hidden form of hearing loss. This damage makes it difficult to understand a single speaker in a noisy background environment. This hearing loss is also cumulative, increasing the risk of hearing loss as you age.

Recent research has shown that the rhythmic head motions that usually results from listening to this music genre can lead to moderate- to severe-level traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) over time. Each time one's head changes direction the brain gets whacked, not enough to cause a concussion, but there is injury. But the small injuries add up, eventually resulting in a TBI. The type of injury resulting from headbanging is similar to that of whiplash from a car accident, as both involve acceleration/deceleration motions with the brain bumping against the skull.

Be cautious how you treat your ears and your brain. You only get one set, and it has to last you all the rest of your life.

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