The next time you attend a live music concert, ensure to take your earplugs with you. According to a recent study, the usage of earplugs can considerably control temporary hearing loss and ringing sound in the ears, when exposed to loud music.

People tend to often assume that hearing loss happens with age, which is true. However, there is a steady rise in the incidents of hearing loss in young adults. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, hearing loss has increased by 31 percent since 1988.

Being subjected to extreme loud music for long durations of time such as in the case or live bands, music festivals, night clubs, discotheques and listening to music from iPod/mp3 players at the highest volume results in temporary hearing loss. Additionally, repetition of such activities over a consistent period of time may in fact lead to permanent hearing disability, reveals the study.

A randomized clinical trial was conducted for the study at an outdoor music festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Out of the 51 volunteers who participated in the study, 25 were in one group that wore earplugs and 26 were in the other group that did not wear earplugs. The average age of the participants was 27 years.

A baseline hearing test was conducted for all the participants of the study before the commencement of the concert which lasted four and a half hours.

Two sets of tests were performed on all the participants immediately after the concert. First was TTS (Temporary Threshold Shift), which is the measure of hearing loss. Of the people tested, 8 percent of the group wearing earplugs had TTS, whereas 42 percent in the unprotected group were found positive with TTS.

The second test was to detect Tinnitus, ringing sound in the ears. In the group wearing earplugs, tinnitus occurred in 12 percent of the participants, while it was an alarming 40 percent in the unprotected group.

"We have proven that earplugs are effective with loud recreational music. You can see that there is quite a bit of temporary damage to the ears by just going to these venues," said Dr. Wilko Grolman, study author and professor in the department of otolaryngology at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The results of the clinical trial were conclusive and evidently proves that earplug usage is effective in preventing temporary noise-induced hearing loss after considerable exposure to loud music.

The study was featured in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery dated April 7. 

Photo: Antonio Zugaldia | Flickr 

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