It’s festival season. This means that it is time to enjoy a summer of live music in the great outdoors.
Most people do not consider that they need to protect their hearing from permanent damage during the festival season, however, listening to loud music, especially over a prolonged period of time, can lead to irreversible hearing damage such as tinnitus, hearing loss, or hypersensitive hearing, often unnoticeable until it is too late.
Hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon, provides useful tips to Checklist readers on how to protect your hearing now, to ensure you can continue to enjoy music for years to come
Protect your hearing while listening to loud music
• Wear earplugs and be sure to fit them well for them to work
• Use ear defenders for kids (it can be hard to fit earplugs properly in small ears)
• Keep a distance from loudspeakers
• Use an app to measure sound levels
“Each year, festivals and loud music damage many ears,” says Thomas Behrens, vice president of audiology, Oticon.
“When music reaches a certain level, it can cause lasting damage to parts of the auditory system. There are likely many people who frequent concerts and festivals who have been affected by a hearing impairment, although some may not recognise their symptoms until much later.
“We have recently reported that the early damage caused by loud noise exposure can be undetectable in normal hearing tests. This ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’ can go unnoticed, even by professionals, and so by the time a diagnosis is made, the body is unable to repair the damage caused and it can be very difficult to treat.”
Mind the volume
Despite festivals having a maximum volume level, they are often exceeded, especially when you consider the noise created by the crowds in addition to the music. The louder the music, the shorter amount of time it takes before hearing damage occurs.
The potential for hearing loss is very individual, so the time a person can be exposed to loud noise before it becomes damaging to their hearing can vary, but in general, sound levels this high can cause a degree of hearing loss in less than five minutes. It may even cause pain and permanent ear injury.
“After a festival, you may well experience ringing in the ears or that you don’t hear well. This is a natural reaction to too much music and loud noise levels. If you still experience these symptoms one day after the concert, we recommend you contact an ENT doctor or a hearing care specialist to discuss your concerns so they can act accordingly. Hearing loss caused by noise is the only type of hearing loss we can prevent, and we should therefore try to do something about it,” concludes Thomas Behrens.
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