by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
This article from the UK asks the question: How likely are you to get tinnitus from clubbing?
The article points out that there really isn’t any way to predict who will develop tinnitus, i.e., ringing in the ears, after noise exposure, and that’s the most important thing to know.
I didn’t know that a one-time exposure to loud noise could cause tinnitus the rest of one’s life. I developed tinnitus (and hyperacusis, a sensitivity to noise that doesn’t bother others, with noise causing pain in the ear) after a one-time exposure to loud music in a restaurant on New Year’s Eve ten years ago.
Fortunately, there is one simple rule to protect your ears: if it sounds too loud, it IS too loud.
If you can’t carry on a conversation without straining to speak or to hear, the ambient noise is above the auditory injury threshold of 75 A-weighted decibels, and your hearing is being damaged.
Research done over the last decade strongly suggests that there is no temporary auditory damage. In animal models, loud noise damages the synapses (nerve junctions) in the ear before it damages the hair cells. This damage isn’t detected by standard hearing tests (pure tone audiometry) but likely is the major reason why adults have difficulty following one conversation among many in a noisy environment.
Remember, your ears are like your eyes or your knees–God only gave you two of them! Take care of them, and they will last you your whole life.
Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association, is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America.