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May 8, 2003

Clubbers risk premature deafness

From: BBC, UK - May 8, 2003

Three out of four young people who go to clubs or concerts regularly are risking permanent hearing damage, research suggests.

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) has found that of the two thirds of young people who regularly go clubbing, three quarters of them regularly experience signs of hearing damage after a night out.

These include ringing in their ears and or dullness of hearing.

The research also shows that while almost half of young people know that the ringing in their ears after a night out is a sign of damage, 59% are not aware this damage is irreversible.

Brian Dow, joint head of campaigns at RNID, said: "Social noise exposure has tripled in the UK since the early 1980s, meaning that it is now even more important for people to take steps to look after their hearing.

"Prevention is always better than cure, especially in this case as there is no remedy for hearing damage.

"We need to get to a stage where remembering to take your ear plugs out with you on a big night out is as common-place as remembering safe sex protection.

"If we don't, we are roller coasting towards an epidemic of premature hearing loss in middle age."

The research has prompted RNID to launch a major campaign, Don't Lose the Music, targeted at clubbers, students and festival goers.

It aims to encourage young people to adopt a 'safe listening' approach by getting them to:
° take regular breaks from the dance floor in clubs and use chill out areas to give ears a rest from loud music
° stand away from loudspeakers when in clubs or at gigs and concerts
° wear ear plugs if regularly exposed to loud music, ie as a frequent clubber, DJ or musician

RNID is also calling on the music industry to ensure speakers in clubs are placed safely and take into account the potential hearing damage that could be caused by badly designed clubs when designing new venues.

The industry is also being urged to offer more chill out space for clubbers so that they are able to take breaks from loud music.

Kim Morgan, deputy chief executive of The Persula Foundation, which funded RNID's research, said: "Hearing is like any other sense: your brain compensates for loss, until one day you realise that you can't hear properly.

"The big difficulty is that we were all brought up in a youth culture where 'If the music is too loud, you're too old', but too many people reach middle age and wish they'd listened to their parents.

"It is very difficult to tell someone to turn the volume down without seeming like a killjoy, but with more and more professional musicians and DJs treating their sense of hearing as the irreplaceable asset it is, it's becoming more viable to get the message across to everyone."