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June 21, 2016

Earplugs prevent temporary hearing loss

Pack your earplugs next time you head out for a concert or when going to a bar. The use of earplugs during exposure to recreational noise effectively prevents temporary hearing loss.

Earplugs prevent temporary hearing loss

A Dutch study has found that 42% of people who do not use earplugs experience temporary hearing loss immediately following recreational noise exposure. Among those who do use earplugs the number is only 8%. In addition, only 12% of the study participants who used earplugs experienced tinnitus following the sound exposure compared to 40% of those who did not use earplugs.

100 dB sound pressure level

The study was conducted by researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, who randomly assigned 51 individuals at an average age of 27 years attending an outdoor music festival in Amsterdam for 4.5 hours to either use earplugs or no earplugs. The time-averaged, sound pressure level experienced during the festival was 100 dB – a level of noise in which our hearing is only safe for 15 minutes before there is a significant concern about permanent hearing loss.

“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 writers note.

About the study

The study was published online in April 2016 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. The study participants, who were recruited via social media, took a baseline hearing test before the concert and were tested again immediately after the concert to reveal a possible temporary loss of hearing.

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