The UK is facing a hearing loss timebomb, according to Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
Research reveals that 90% of young people experience the signs of hearing damage after a night out, yet do nothing to prevent it.
The charity’s Like it Loud? report, published as part of its Don’t Lose the Music campaign, shows that 70% of clubbers, 68% of gig-goers and 44% of people who go to bars experience the symptoms of hearing damage, such as dullness of hearing or tinnitus – ringing in the ears.
More than half of respondents visited a bar where they had to shout to be heard at least once a week, and the same proportion went clubbing at least once a month.
Yet just a quarter of young people surveyed thought the music in these venues was too loud and just a third thought hearing loss would affect their lives.
RNID is calling on the Government to establish a recommended noise exposure level for audiences attending music venues and events, and educate young people about noise as a public health risk.
The charity, which represents the UK’s 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people, is also urging music lovers to invest in a pair of reusable earplugs – which reduce the volume but not the quality of the music – to protect their ears from damaging decibels.
It also advises people to stand away from loud speakers and spend time in quieter areas to give their ears a rest.
Dr John Low, Chief Executive of RNID, said:
“We’re all familiar with messages about practising safe sex and using suncream – but the lack of any guidance on loud music means this generation of music lovers could be facing a hearing loss timebomb.
“Our research shows most young people have experienced the first signs of permanent hearing damage after a night out, yet have no idea how to prevent it.
“With regular exposure to music at high volumes in clubs, gigs and bars, it’s only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage their hearing forever.
“Young people who love music need to be educated so they can make choices about the risk of exposure to loud noise and protect their hearing from premature damage.”
According to the World Health Organization, exposure to excessive noise is the major avoidable cause of permanent hearing loss worldwide.
Experts agree that exposure to sound levels over 85 decibels will damage hearing over time. Music played at clubs, gigs and bars can be well over this level.
As a guide, if a person has to shout to be heard by someone two metres away, the music could be dangerously loud if they are exposed to it regularly or for a long time.
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