On International Noise Awareness Day (25 April) national charity Action on Hearing Loss is offering people tips on how to better protect themselves from exposure to loud noise.
Gemma Twitchen, Senior Audiologist at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common form after age-related hearing loss, and with more and more of us listening to amplified music through our headphones, it’s essential that people are aware of how to protect their hearing:
1) Wear earplugs to concerts and other noisy spaces such as gyms.
2) Invest in noise-cancelling headphones when listening to music – this will help avoid you having to turn your music all the way up to hear it over background noise. It can also help protect your hearing against loud transport such as tube lines.
3) If you’re in a club or at a gig, consider going outside and taking ‘noise breaks’.
Gemma continued: “There are around 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss and around one in ten adults in the UK with tinnitus. Exposure to loud noise, such as on a night out or from your personal music player can affect your hair cells, a bit like the way a fresh patch of grass is affected by someone trampling over it, after a few times the grass will stand upright and tall, however over time if people continue to trample over it, it will become flat – much like the hair cells in your ears.”
The safe exposure time to be around noise at 85 decibels (dB) is eight hours. As sound intensity doubles with every increase of 3dB, the exposure time halves. For sounds of 110 – 120dB, which nightclubs can exceed, even a short exposure time can cause hearing damage.
How loud is too loud?
> Rocket launch is 180 dB
> Jet taking off is 120dB
> Live gig is 110 dB
> Nightclub is 100dB
> Fire alarm is 97dB
> Lawnmower 94dB
> Pneumatic drill 91dB
> Heavy traffic 88dB
> Food blender 85dB
> Normal conversation 60dB
Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive said: "Worryingly some our research showed that over half (53.4%) of people aged 18 to 24 had experienced tinnitus, with 40% of people unaware that being exposed to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus.
"In nightclubs or concerts, noise levels are often over 100dB which means you can only safely listen to music for 15 minutes without wearing ear plugs. Who goes to a gig or a club for 15 minutes? Ear plugs are the only thing that can protect you as they take off on average 15-20dB – which takes you under the 85dB level, and makes for safer listening."
For more information on how to protect your hearing against noise damage or if you’re concerned about your hearing, please visit: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/
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Notes to Editors
Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) is the national charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way, giving people support and care, developing technology and treatments, and campaigning for equality.