We consume more noise than we ever have before, according to DrJames Schuster-Bruce, an Ear Nose and Throat doctor in South London.
He’s co-founder of Life is Loud, a sonic safety collaborative, and is particularly keen on encouraging music fans to protect their hearing.
“Life is loud, right? In the morning when you’re on the commute, spin class, wearing your AirPods at work all day, then going to the bar, the gig, the club,” he points out.
But rather than wagging a finger, demanding clubs pull the sound system down to a whisper or mandating 24/7 earplug wearing, Dr James thinks the solution lies in being a little more realistic when it comes to taking care of our hearing.
“Rather than a ‘turn it down’ approach,” he explains, “we want to give you some information to empower you to consume music better, reduce the damage to your ears, and ultimately, stay out longer doing the things you enjoy.”
To find out more about sonic safety, head to our Don’t Miss A Beat hearing hub.
How can I tell if I’ve got noise-induced hearing loss?
According to Dr James, there’s three main symptoms to watch out for.
“If you get these after a night out, it’s probably a sign you’ve overdone it.”
“The first one that people notice is usually tinnitus or noise in the ear. This presents often as a high pitched ringing sound, but can also be clicking the kind of gushing or whooshing.”
This can be temporary, but can become more frequent or persistent until it’s there the whole time.
Problems in conversations
If you’re finding it difficult to follow conversations, find you’re missing some words because of background noise, or asking others to repeat themselves more often, this could be another sign to take action.
Hypersensitivity to sounds
Though tinnitus and muffled hearing are kind of notorious tip-offs that your hearing might be deteriorating, you should also keep an eye out for increased sensitivity to the sounds you're hearing. This is also known as hyperacusis.
“Some sounds might have caused pain or discomfort when you hear them,” explains Dr James, pointing out that it's also worth getting a check-up if it's something you're experiencing.
The good news? Noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable, and there’s a bunch of steps you can take to protect your hearing from worsening - you can find out more in our Sonic Safety guide.