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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 09:17 GMT
One night out 'damages hearing'
Christopher Woods
Christopher Woods' hearing has already been damaged

Nine out of ten young people have experienced the first signs of hearing damage after listening to loud music on a night out, a UK charity warns.

The RNID says more should wear ear plugs to protect their hearing, without spoiling their appreciation of music.

However, it says there is a reluctance to wear them because they look unappealing.

It is launching a competition to encourage design students to come up with more fashionable alternatives.

If you keep exposing yourself to loud music repeatedly you will cause damage to your hearing over time
Donna Tipping
RNID

Leading design agencies will offer work placements to those students with the most impressive ideas.

Experts say prolonged exposure to noise over 85 decibels will harm hearing over time.

Music played in concerts, bars and clubs is often above this level.

Persistant ringing

Donna Tipping, from the RNID, said the first signs of hearing damage include a slight buzzing in the ears, dullness and flatness of sound, and in some cases a more persistent ringing.

HOW NOISY?
Vacuum cleaner: 70 decibels
Pneumatic drill: 110 decibels
Rock concert: 100 decibels
Plane taking off (100m away): 130 decibels

She said: "They will go away after a little while, but if you keep exposing yourself to loud music repeatedly you will cause damage to your hearing over time."

A RNID surveyed young people aged 16-30 and found a third thought ear plugs looked silly, and would not consider wearing them. Only 3% did wear ear plugs on a regular basis.

Audiologist Angela King said: "If you are in the sort of noise level that you get in a busy street, where you have to raise your voice to talk to somebody, you would have to be in that sort of noise for a long time, most of the working week on a regular basis, for it to be a real risk to hearing.

"But in clubs you can get noise levels over 100 decibels, and you can only safely be in that sort of noise level for less than two hours a week."

Christopher Woods, a musician from Birmingham who is training to be a sound engineer, has already, at the age of just 21, experienced damage to his hearing caused by playing and listening to loud music.

He said: "The damage is permanent. I have been told my hearing will never improve.

"Many people who have been working in the industry for a long time have a sustained level of hearing loss, and it is too late."



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The dangers of loud music and ignoring warning noises



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