You’ve been told that you should wear ear plugs to concerts, now you will know exactly why:

Why you should wear earplugs to concerts.  And the reason is that a research study has proven that ear plug use protects hearing:

[R]esearchers from the Netherlands randomly assigned 51 people, with an average age of 27, attending an outdoor music festival in Amsterdam into two groups: one in which the participants wore ear plugs and another where they did not. The subjects, who were advised to avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs, had their hearing evaluated right before and immediately after the four-and-a-half hour festival.

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The study found that only 8 percent of people who wore earplugs experienced hearing loss following this exposure, compared with 42 percent of those in the unprotected group. Additionally, fewer participants wearing earplugs felt a ringing in their ears — a condition known as tinnitus — following the festival, compared to those who did not wear earplugs (12 percent versus 40 percent).

The findings are important, the authors say, as repeated instances of loud music exposure can add up to longterm damage.

Hearing damage is cumulative.  Each exposure to loud noise that results in “temporary” hearing loss or ringing in one’s ears may seem limited in time, but each exposure builds on the last and can lead to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.  You only have one set of ears and science has not discovered how to regrow, rejuvenate, or replace the stereocilia that allow you to hear.  Next time you head to a concert or music festival, get a pair of ear plugs and protect your hearing.

NOTE: The statement in the article that “85 dBA is considered the cut off between safe and potentially unsafe loudness levels” is not correct when applied to the general public.  In February 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) posted an article on its Science Blog that stated that the 85 dBA noise exposure limit was intended as a limit for occupational noise exposure and not a safe exposure limit for the public at large.  See, NIOSH Science Blog clarifies difference between occupational and general noise exposure limits.

Thanks to Hyperacusis Research Limited for the link.  Hyperacusis Research Limited is a non-profit charity dedicated to funding research on what causes hyperacusis with the goal of developing effective treatment.

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