Let the music play on but protect your hearing

Post on 24th August 2016

Festival goers traipsing through the mud are part of a British summer but while many now prepare for the worst of the weather, how many prepare for the assault on their ears?

While great memories are created as the music blasts out from favourite bands at iconic music festivals some people will be left with lasting reminders that they do not want, namely damaged hearing.

Symptoms include not just hearing loss but also ringing in the ears (tinnitus), sound sensitivity, a feeling of ears being blocked (aural fullness) and even chronic ear pain.

Our ears are sensitive and need to be protected. Scrivens Optician & Hearing Care hearing aid audiologist Stuart Spencer said: “The effect of being exposed to loud noise can creep up on you and the damage is irreversible. We recommend protecting your ears from loud noise exposure with good quality ear plugs. It’s better than the alternative; a lifetime of hearing problems.”

Noise can cause damage because sound waves vibrate the eardrum and pass through to the inner ear or cochlea, which contains microscopic hair cells covered in fluid. These hair cells move with the sound and send signals through the auditory nerve to the brain, which interprets the sound.

Noise that’s too loud or long-lasting destroys the hair cells, causing hearing loss or partial deafness.

Loud noise exposure can also cause tinnitus – a ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears or head. The actual cause of tinnitus is still a mystery, and may subside over time, but can sometimes continue constantly or occasionally throughout a person’s life. Hearing loss and tinnitus can occur in one or both ears.

Noise can also activate pain fibres in the inner ear. These fibres, which have been identified in mice though not yet in humans, probably explain the pain that occurs with an intensely loud noise as well as pain that can linger after the noise stops.

Another unexplained symptom – the feeling of aural fullness or pressure in the ear canal, not unlike the pressure felt during an airplane descent – may be caused by these same pain fibres.

So please, enjoy the music but be mindful of protecting your hearing. If you have any concerns you can seek advice and hearing care services at your local Scrivens branch.