"Ear fatigue" + hearing loss advice


I’m on tour at the moment and using in ear monitors for the first time. Four days in, I woke up partially deaf with ringing in my ears. The closest I can explain the feeling, is like being on an aeroplane and having a lot of pressure like an expanding bubble inside my ear. It feels sore, I can’t make anything out when people talk quietly, I feel the need to yawn or clear my ears and I’ve lost a lot of high end.

I’ve been reassured by the audio tech team that this is “ear fatigue” and it won’t be permanent, it’s just my body’s way of telling me I need to take a break. I’ve also been told my monitors are already at a very low volume, I’ve since turned them down to be even more quiet. I’m still concerned, as my hearing is my life.

Has anyone else experienced this? I’m especially interested to hear from fellow professional musicians / producers out there. How long did it take for you to recover, how did you recover and do you have any advice or recovery tips for someone in my position?

Thank you <3


Hi @lsych! I wish I had actual advice to offer you, but unfortunately I haven’t had the chance get my own ears treated. I’ve definitely had this before, quite frequently and now somewhat permanently. It sucks and I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues with it! It’s totally understandable to be worried about this (I freaked out when I first got it), especially if your hearing forms the basis of your career. Have you tried going to an audiologist/specialist and getting tests done? I haven’t had the chance to do it yet, but I’ve had friends that have done it and found it really helpful. It could be a good idea just so you know what you’re dealing with. As far as the ringing goes, if you’re lucky it’ll go away. If you’re not (like me), it can be permanent. It sucks at first but, for me, once I had lived with it for a while and developed strategies to deal with it, I barely notice it now (though it’s different for everyone). The hearing loss itself is also permanent for me (that absolutely doesn’t mean it will be for you!) and that’s a little more noticeable but only in certain situations. As far as music making goes, it doesn’t affect my process too much. I do wonder what my mixes sound like to others, though, so getting second opinions and other people’s thoughts on any mixing work tends to be a good idea.

Only semi-related, but, personally, another thing that helped me deal with this sort of thing is reckoning with how important hearing actually is within music. I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t protect your hearing - you absolutely should take the best possible care of your ears, but it sounds like you’re doing that at the moment so that’s kinda beside the point. What I am trying to say is that I discovered that, for me, music is more about process and expression - how I feel while I’m making it and the ideas I’m trying to get across - than it is about the actual sound/end result of it. That made me feel a lot calmer about the whole thing, and made me listen to things differently, as well. It’s hard to describe my change in head-space properly, but I can say I’ll probably be jamming low frequencies well into my deaf old age, regardless of whether or not I can hear the rest of it :rofl:

Hopefully there’s something helpful in there for you (even if it’s just the recommendation to go see an audiologist!) :slightly_smiling_face:


I have some mild tinnitus and have experienced the muffled thing after particularly loud stuff. Good news is at least in my case my hearing is still pretty good and my tinnitus only is noticable in very quiet places. The muffled stuffy feeling thankfully went away within a few days.

Not sure if this applies to you but I know with in ears if the ambient noise of the show (especially crowds cheering) can be loud enough to get into the mix and your monitor mix it can still be really loud.

For the sake of still being able to play as well as protect my ears, I just use a traditional monitor with either musicians earplugs or foam ones for the really loud stuff. Was always skeptical about sending sound directly into my ears in already loud environments. As a listener I’d prefer to use nothing because it does sound better, but the consequences just arent worth it.


Are you flying between gigs? I’ve had this several times when flying and beeing tired from long gigs and loud music… It feels very close to how you describe it, and sometimes it pops back and other times it fades away after a while. Might not be related, but if it is it’s a quicker recovery than ear fatigue.


Yes I am, that’s a good point. Went to the ENT doctor yesterday and did a full hearing test and looked inside my ears. They said my ear canal looked fine and my ear drum isn’t damaged but that there may be fluid in my inner ear tube. They prescribed me some steroids to take to help clear this.

I definitely know that something isn’t right, but hoping it will clear with time. Two more shows of this leg of the tour left!


Me too - my preference has always been to use a wedge. I totally get your skepticism about putting mini speakers in your ears! The doctor even suggested I put ear plugs in before the in ear monitors, but I have no idea how there would even be space as my ear canals are very small :rofl:


Glad to hear that you got it looked at! Hope it all clears up for you soon :slightly_smiling_face:


are you using custom molded/fitted IEM’s ? if not that might make the difference since if they are molded to your ear perfectly they may dampen external sound better and allow you to monitor through them at lower volume.


I was using generics, but have had my molds back and it’s made a world of difference. Thank you everyone for the advice.