Photo credit: edoardo tommasini from Pexels
by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
This report from The Irish News discusses TV personality and actor Jamie Laing, who developed tinnitus at age 31 from listening to loud music. He woke up one morning hearing a loud buzzing noise. He searched his house to see where it was coming from, but then realized that it was inside his own head.
This is called tinnitus, ringing in the ears but technically defined as a perception of noise with no external sound source.
Mr. Laing sought medical attention. His discussion of what his doctor said and his reaction to that is a good summary of what many others have said:
“My GP said there were a number of possible causes but exposure to loud music in nightclubs was the most likely one in my case,” says Jamie, who is dating fellow Made In Chelsea star Sophie ‘Habbs’ Habboo (26).
“My GP explained there was no cure, but it would probably go away eventually on its own as I got used to it. There were treatments available to help me come to terms with it, until it did,” says Jamie.
“At first I couldn’t believe I could have tinnitus, I thought it only affected older people or people who were exposed to loud bangs – but it’s more common than people think. I’d been to festivals and concerts and listened to music on headphones – the louder the better when I was younger.
“But I’d never stood next to the speakers at concerts, or been in a band – I’d probably been to a few too many festivals where the music was loud and never worn ear plugs.
“I wish I had now – protecting your ears against loud noise is so important.”
I’m just back from Geneva, where I spoke about the need for regulation of club and concert noise at the World Health Organization consultation on its Make Listening Safe program. WHO is working on these recommendations, including requirements for sound limits and for warning signs about the dangers of noise, and also requiring offer of free earplugs.
Because as with Mr. Laing, most people, young or old, don’t know that exposure to loud music, whether many times or even only one time, can cause tinnitus for the rest of one’s life.
That’s how I developed tinnitus, after a one-time exposure to loud noise in a restaurant on New Year’s Eve 2007.
I wish I had known the basic rule: if it sounds too loud, it is too loud! Ask for the volume to be lowered, leave the noisy environment, insert earplugs, or possibly face lifelong tinnitus, like me and Jamie Laing and millions of others.
Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He 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. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.