PEOPLE attending festive parties have been urged to wear earplugs to protect their hearing.
As the Christmas party season gets into full swing, charity Action on Hearing Loss is encouraging people to take steps to protect their hearing while in noisy pubs, bars or concerts.
Earplugs do not block out the music but can protect people from being exposed to dangerous noise frequencies, the charity said.
Revellers should also avoid standing for too long near speakers and take breaks from the noise, it added.
After a night out, many have experienced ringing in their ears but the charity estimates that some six million Britons are living with this sensation permanently.
The condition, called tinnitus, is often described as ringing in the ears but many people hear different sounds including buzzing, clicking, whooshing or humming.
The condition can be related to age-related hearing loss but has also been linked to being exposed to loud noise.
Listening to any sound at a high volume – more than 85 decibels – can cause damage.
Loud noise exposure can damage the hair cells in the cochlea, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus.
Symptoms of the condition can last anywhere from a few hours to permanent damage.
For many, the condition can be mildly annoying and can come and go, but for an estimated 600,000 people across the UK it has a serious impact on their quality of life.
There is no cure for tinnitus.
But Action on Hearing Loss said that noise-related tinnitus and hearing loss are completely avoidable if people protect their ears.
“We don’t want people to stop going to music events and parties – that’s not what this is about,” said Gemma Twitchen, senior audiologist at Action on Hearing Loss.
“There is a misconception that if you wear earplugs you can’t hear or enjoy the music, but this is simply not true.
“Earplugs will block out the dangerous sound frequencies, still allowing you to listen to the music and enjoy it.”
People who experience symptoms of tinnitus for longer than a 24-hour period should go to see their GP, the charity said.
David Stockdale, chief executive of the British Tinnitus Association, said: “It’s always important to be mindful of noise levels throughout the year, but particularly during the festive season when many of us are out socialising in busy bars and restaurants and cranking up the Christmas tunes at home, too.
“Tinnitus can be caused by exposure to overly loud music and noise, so protecting your hearing is not only important, it’s essential.
“Once it’s damaged, hearing can’t be fixed – but it’s important to note that tinnitus from over-exposure to loud sounds can be prevented.
“There are some really simple ways to do this including using earplugs, taking regular breaks from the noise, making sure you don’t stand next to the speakers and also keeping hydrated.
“Our tinnitus prevention website www.plugem.co.uk has information about sound levels and exposure times, and provides some really useful advice about the types of hearing protection that can be used.”
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