Why Is It “Uncool” To Protect Your Hearing?

By Chrissy Hughes on 11th May 2016

Last week when I was researching the latest conversations about tinnitus over on Twitter I came across a tweet from a well known rock magazine, Kerrang.

There was one sentence in the tweet, which you can see below, that I just could not get my head around. “Worth the tinnitus”. Why would a reputable magazine that has the power to promote healthy hearing and hearing protection at loud events say that music is worth the tinnitus? Have they ever experienced tinnitus like you and me?

Kerrang Tweet

We were quick to react, but unfortunately we received no response from Kerrang. A few other hearing organisations picked up on our tweet and shared their frustrations and thoughts. This all led to the realisation that for some reason some people think it’s “uncool” to wear hearing protection. But why? Is it because thought leaders in the music industry, such as Kerrang, make statements like the one above? Is it because there is inadequate education around the subject?

How do we change this?

No one would tweet and tell you to look directly into the sun because we all know the damage that would do to your sight, but yet people don’t seem to value their hearing as much. Sarah on Twitter got in touch to share her thoughts; “Venues should be prosecuted for excessive volume if they’re not handing out earplugs.” Do you agree? If there were laws to restrict sound to a certain level then maybe some tinnitus cases caused by loud noise could be prevented.

Plenty of well known names publicly promote themselves, and their children, wearing hearing protection while attending loud events, but this doesn’t seem to make a difference. Instead of bragging about how loud a gig was let’s protect our hearing so that we can enjoy the sound of music for longer, and without suffering. Half of all cases of hearing loss can be prevented through primary prevention after all.

We asked a few people their thoughts on the matter and this is what they said.

Plug’em is a campaign being run by the British Tinnitus Association, promoting awareness of the need to use earplugs when live music is unsafe. Emily Broomhead, the campaign lead, tells us why she thinks using earplugs, is without doubt the thing to do:

Protecting your hearing is far cooler than losing it. Once any damage is caused it can’t be fixed, and if you get tinnitus, you really will regret not looking after your hearing. Earplugs protect your hearing and depending on the ones you use, they actually allow you to hear the music better! And after all, loads of musicians protect their hearing, so if you go to gigs, or clubs or festivals why shouldn’t you do the same?

Don’t let your love of music ruin your love of music. Please have a look at our website where you can find out about suitable earplugs, safe and unsafe sound levels and read more about why all the Plug’em Ambassadors are supporting the campaign.

Bryan Pollard, the president of Hyperacusis Research got in touch to let us know his opinion. Hyperacusis Research Limited Inc. is dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients who suffer from hyperacusis and hyperacusis-related disorders. Central to the mission of the organization is facilitating and supporting biomedical research which will lead to novel, effective therapies for the treatment of hyperacusis.

‘Hyperacusis,’ the evil spawn of tinnitus, is a word you do not want in your vocabulary or your medical history. It means that noise = pain. All it takes is one loud night out to spark a lifetime of regret.

Shawn Foster got in touch on Twitter to say that he developed tinnitus while he was producing electronic music. He’s much more cautious now, but before he was not, and now he can hear the ringing over even the loudest of noises. Shawn wanted to share his thoughts on the matter so that people will think twice about not wearing hearing protection in noisy environments.

Tinnitus is an interesting thing. Some days, it’s like the traffic; it’s loud, and it’s annoying, but it doesn’t actively bother me. If I’m out and about, all is well. I can generally ignore it. The problem is when you want to relax. When the day has been long and you just crave peace and silence, it’s been robbed from you. Something so simple as silence, but even silence can be taken from you. It’s hard to explain what it’s like, but it’s the persistence that gets you. Everyone knows what it’s like to grow weary of a sore throat, but that goes away. Tinnitus never will. As soon as my head reaches the pillow, and my body becomes heavy and sleepy, the siren begins. It’s all you can think about, because it’s consuming the entirety of your reality. There’s no way to run, or shut it off, or take a pill to make it leave. Some people get annoyed when they hear simple things, like a dripping faucet or a barking dog. I wonder how those people would cope, if the noise never ceased. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to lose silence, because silence is nothingness.

Ear plugs, they can be taken out, replaced, etc, without the slightest inconvenience. Skin coloured ones are barely even noticeable. The ringing however, it’s in for the long haul. Even as I write, the siren whales indefinitely. The worst of it all, is that tinnitus loves in audience. The only peace you’ll get is when you’re not thinking about it. The very, and I mean the very second you notice that you don’t hear it, it will return ferociously.

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