Life

Action on Hearing Loss tackling tinnitus at Belfast gigs

Wearing earplugs reduces music volume by 15-20 decibels which makes for safer listening.

ACTION on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland are urging young people attending upcoming music events at Custom House Square and Belfast Vital to protect their hearing – or risk damaging it permanently.

The charity will be at the concerts in August giving away free earplugs to music fans and raising awareness of the fact that over-exposure to loud music can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.

Wearing earplugs reduces music volume by 15-20 decibels which makes for safer listening.

To illustrate this, they are highlighting the case study of Jacob (23), who now is now suffering with tinnitus following a clubbing holiday in Ibiza last year.

As he explains, the music in one club proved to be so loud that it was "physically painful".

"One night we went to a large nightclub where I was dancing for several hours and enjoying the music," recalls Jacob.

"There was a point during the set of one of my favourite DJs where the music was so loud it was physically painful for me to be in the club. I left and waited outside for my friends.

"I was used to having tinnitus after nights out but it was always gone by the morning! That night, however, the ringing in my ears before I went to bed was at a louder than usual volume.

"The next morning when I woke up, it was still there. It wasn’t as significant as the night before but it was enough to cause me discomfort.

"For the first few weeks the tinnitus significantly impacted my life – any moment where noise distraction was not available, like studying, going to sleep or being in a quiet place – was stressful as I was plagued by the constant ringing.

"At its worst, I could hear the noise over the television. The ringing made me feel anxious, upset and fearful that things would not get better. Loud noises such as an ambulance were stressful, which was particularly difficult as I was studying in a city.

"Over time and after considerable research, I learned to continue living my life as I did before. Thankfully, the tinnitus now has very little impact on my life and only affects me when I am in a quiet room on my own.

"It’s more audible when I am stressed and anxious about it, which turns into a vicious cycle!

"My advice to others, especially if you suffer from episodes of tinnitus after nights out, would be to purchase some inexpensive ear plugs – and use them!

"If you are conscious about how you look, you can buy discreet ones which no one else will know are in. I had always noticed that the bar staff at these clubs always wore ear plugs as protection. On reflection, it seems odd that the staff are required to wear ear plugs but there is no health and safety for the party-goers.

"A message of hope for those suffering at present: the symptoms I believe are very connected to your brain, mental health and stress levels.

"Learning to have peace about the condition and staying relaxed are key to reducing the symptoms.”

Action on Hearing Loss is encouraging concert goers to raise awareness by sharing the hashtag #dontlosethemusic on social media.

:: More information on hearing loss and how to prevent it at Actiononhearingloss.org.uk

TOP TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR HEARING

:: Always wear earplugs: earplugs take off on average 15-20dB which takes you under the 85dB level and makes for safer listening. They’re the only thing that can protect your ears.

:: Don’t stand near speakers

:: Give your ears a break from loud music for at least five minutes every hour

:: Stay hydrated: dehydration can make the hair cells in your inner ear more vulnerable to damage, as can alcohol

:: If it’s uncomfortably loud or painful – leave

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