Nine in 10 young people aged 16-30 experience signs of hearing damage after a night out, research suggests.
70% of clubbers have symptoms of hearing damage after a night out, says RNID
The charity RNID found 90% of pub, club and gig-goers experienced dullness of hearing or ringing in the ears after a night on the town.
More than half of the 1,381 surveyed visited a bar where they had to shout to be heard at least once a week.
A quarter said the music in these venues was too loud and a third thought hearing loss would affect their lives.
New noise regulations come into force to protect employees in the music and entertainment sectors in April 2008.
But the RNID is calling on the government to establish a recommended noise exposure level for audiences attending music venues and events, and educate young people about noise as a public health risk.
Dr John Low, Chief Executive of RNID, said: "Our research shows most young people have experienced the first signs of permanent hearing damage after a night out, yet have no idea how to prevent it.
"With regular exposure to music at high volumes in clubs, gigs and bars, it's only too easy to clock up noise doses that could damage their hearing forever."
He said music lovers, musicians and DJs could take simple steps to protect themselves from damaging decibels on a night out or while performing:
- Taking a five minute rest period for every hour of listening to allow ears to recover
- Standing away from loud speakers in pubs, clubs, gigs and concerts
- Taking regular breaks from the dance floor and using chill out areas to give ears a rest from loud music
- Wearing earplugs designed for use in clubs and gigs, which reduce the volume not the quality of the sound - available for the price of a CD
Carl Hill, 31 and from London, said a decade of running club nights had taken a toll on his hearing.
"I now have tinnitus, which means I have a constant ringing in my ears. It can be quite annoying, especially at night. Sometimes I have to go to sleep with the radio on for distraction.
A quiet room at night - 20 decibels
An ordinary spoken conversation - 60 decibels
A busy street - 70 decibels
A pneumatic drill - 100 decibels
Some personal music players (at high volume) - 105 decibels
Aircraft taking off - 110 decibels
"With hindsight, I should have worn earplugs."
Neil Williams of the British Beer and Pub Association said: "Steps are being taken to raise awareness.
"A new noise regulation is due in 2008 and will cover a range of measures including how to limit the sound exposure of staff and how speakers should be positioned.
"We are working on guidance for our members."
In other workplaces, updated regulations are already in force and the level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 rather than 90 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure).
The level at which employers must assess the risk to workers' health and provide them with information and training is now 80 decibels.