Irreversible hearing loss and tinnitus has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a growing global problem, even though inner-ear damage is preventable.
Around 10% of the world’s population is exposed to sound pressure levels that have the potential to cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and it is the most common occupational disability in the US.
In the UK, social noise has become one of the biggest threats to hearing; the European commission has said that one in five young people is exposed to potentially harmful loud sounds during leisure time. Since the 1980s, this figure has tripled and doesn’t look set to slow anytime soon.
Gemma Twitchen, senior audiologist at the charity Action on Hearing Loss has the following advice:
“Buy a new portable music device if yours doesn’t have a maximum volume control. Then don’t override the maximum setting. And if you’re in a noisy environment, don’t be tempted to keep turning up your volume; it’s better to use noise cancelling headphones so you shut out external noise and don’t need to turn your music up too loud.”
She also says if you are at a festival and the music sounds distorted, it is probably too loud – taking a break or moving away from speakers should help. If you experience ringing in the ears or muffled sounds after being in a loud environment, you may have damaged the hair cells of the inner ear. This normally recovers within a few days, but repeated exposure could damage your hearing in the long-term.
If you work in the music industry or attend a lot of gigs, investing in good quality earplugs could help to limit your exposure to damaging noise levels.
If you suffer from tinnitus, you may find hypnotherapy helpful to ease stress and lessen symptoms. Find out more on out tinnitus page.
View and comment on the original Guardian article.