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January 5, 2005

Deafness can follow too much music noise

From: ic, UK - Jan 5, 2005

By Gabrielle Fagan

Hangovers from drinking are a well-known hazard of Christmas, but few young people are aware that they could suffer a more serious and permanent hangover - from noise. Alcohol's effects wear off, but noise levels in clubs, pubs or at parties where loud music is played can permanently damage hearing.

Clarinda Cuppage, from the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) says: "Unless people take steps to protect their hearing when they go for a night out, many could start find themselves with hearing loss or suffer tinnitus, a medical condition causing permanent ringing in the ears."

The charity fears that research by The Medical Research Council, which suggests that about four million adolescents are at risk of hearing loss due to listening to loud music, is an underestimate.

"We recently surveyed UK nightclubs and found that the noise in some was as loud as an aeroplane taking off. Yet young people tolerate and accept high or even ear-splitting noise levels as a normal part of socialising."

While regular clubbers are three times as likely to develop tinnitus, which is often accompanied by hearing loss, she points out that: "The majority are completely unaware that they are risking temporary or even permanent hearing loss."

Many also worsen the problem by putting their ears at daily risk constantly playing personal stereos at high volumes for long periods.

"Worryingly, the majority of young clubbers experience - but ignore - the warning signs of damage such as ringing in the ears or dull hearing after a concert.Yet those symptoms show that you are pushing the tolerance of your ears beyond their limits. Initially, effects may be temporary but ears regularly subjected to excessive noise can suffer cumulative damage, leading to long-term and permanent hearing problems."


* Stand away from loud speakers when in pubs, clubs or at gigs and concerts.

* Take 10-minute breaks from noise every hour. Head to the loo or go somewhere quiet. Some clubs have a chill out room.

* Avoid getting drunk in noisy situations as you'll probably forget, or not care, what damage you're doing to your ears.

* Wear earplugs specially designed for use in clubs and gigs, especially if you are regularly exposed to loud music as a frequent clubber, bartender, DJ or musician.

* For more information visit


An aeroplane taking off registers 110 decibels of noise, while a rock concert can hit 115 decibels and a noisy nightclub can almost match that level. A crowded pub, especially one with live music, can register 90 decibels.


Earplugs can protect the ears and don't block out the music. They start from £10 a pair for re-usable earplugs, which reduce the noise level by about 15-20 decibels, going up to £150 a pair for custom-made musicians' earplugs. Quality earplugs are available from music shops, and online.


Many celebrities in the music business have experienced hearing problems. Norman Cook, also known as Fat Boy Slim, suffered hearing loss in one ear and Ozzy Osbourne suffers from tinnitus.

Denny from rock band Embrace is a tinnitus sufferer.

"The first six months I had tinnitus were awful," he says.

"Every night I'd go to bed with the radio on just to drown out the constant and awful high pitched 'test card tone' in my head. Five years on and I've learned to live with it pretty much. If you haven't got tinnitus, for God's sake take care of your ears before it's too late."


* About 66 per cent of 18-30-year-olds go clubbing at least once a month and three out of four have experienced warning signs of hearing damage such as ringing in the ears or dullness of hearing, according to research by the RNID.

* Only a tiny eight per cent recognise warning signs, less than half take regular breaks from the noise when clubbing, and only five per cent wear earplugs.

* One in five people who listen to music on personal stereos believe they have the volume too high.

Copyright Trinity Mirror Plc 2005