It might not be very rock’n’roll, but wearing earplugs to loud gigs does protect against deafness, scientists have revealed.
The findings come just weeks after AC/DC cancelled their US tour after frontman Brian Johnson was warned by doctors he risked going permanently deaf.
Now researchers have shown that wearing simple earplugs during a loud concert or festival was effective in preventing temporary hearing loss.
The prevalence of acquired hearing loss has risen in past years.
The US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found teenagers with hearing loss has increased by 31 per cent in the two decades since 1988.
Nightclubbers or festival or concert goers can be exposed to loud music with sound pressure levels of approximately 100 to 110 dBA for several hours.
This exposure is known to cause hearing loss but in most cases, noise exposure causes temporary hearing loss.
Sustained noise of 90 to 95 dBA can cause hearing loss – the noise emitted by a portable pneumatic hammer while at levels of 125dBA pain is caused – such as the noise from pneumatic riveters.
At 140dBA such as the noise from a jet engine even short term exposure can cause permanent damage.
Dutch researchers randomly assigned 51 individuals attending an outdoor music festival for four-and-a-half hours in Amsterdam to wear earplugs or go unprotected
Recruited via social media they had an average age of 27 and the average sound pressure level experienced was 100 dBA during the festival.
The volunteers then had their hearing loss measured according to a temporary threshold shift (TTS) on an audiogram.
It was found that the proportion of participants with a TTS following sound exposure was only eight per cent in the earplug group compared with 42 per cent in the unprotected group.
In addition, a lower percentage of participants had tinnitus following sound exposure in the earplug group – 12 per cent against 40 per cent in the unprotected group.
Dr Wilko Grolman of the University Medical Centre Utrecht said: “The present randomised clinical trial [RCT] adds proof to the scarce evidence and knowledge on this topic, which is a growing global problem.
“This RCT adds evidence that earplugs are effective in preventing temporary hearing loss during high recreational music levels.
“Therefore, the use of earplugs should be actively promoted and encouraged to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.”
The study was published online by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
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