Here I am looking all cool (or trying to) a couple of nights ago on stage in Barcelona. After that concert I had ringing in my ears for 36 hours. I am always very protective of my hearing, and I have managed to maintain it very well despite being around studios and stages ever since I was a teenager.
Despite all my cares, at said concert a defective monitor blasted an evil mid range frequency straight into my right ear for about an hour. In the heat of the moment, I wasn’t smart enough to take care of the problem and instead soldiered on. Bad idea.
Luckily, the tinnitus eventually receded and my hearing is back to normal. The good news here is that the belief that the ringing in your ears after being exposed to loud noises is a sign of damage has been revised. It is actually a defense mechanism that usually allows your hearing to return to its normal state. But repeated exposure does indeed hurt your hearing irreversibly. You can think of it as getting sunburnt. You can maybe get away with it a few times, maybe, but making a habit of it is a really bad idea.
But here’s the scary part. People who get chronic tinnitus, which means the ringing in your ears stays there, buzzing in your brain until the day you die (or until medical advances finds a cure) can be triggered by a single event. A lot of people who suffer from it (and I know quite a few, unfortunately) report that they can pinpoint a single event (a loud concert, an accidental sound, etc.) as the origin of their problem.
So please do take care of your ears. I always have and my hearing is above average considering my age. I have spent the last couple of days terrified that I would never be able to hear silence again. Am I overreacting? Maybe. But if I can scare you into taking care of yourself and your future as a musician and music lover, then I consider my mission accomplished.