The World Health Organisation is urging nightclubs, concerts and sporting events to offer earplugs to audiences to protect against hearing damage.
The global health body issued the advice for World Hearing Day – warning that over one billion young people are at risk of losing their hearing due to “prolonged and excessive exposure to loud music and other recreational sounds”.
The WHO has issued six new recommendations it says venues should use to protect people from hearing loss.
- Limit volume to a maximum of 100 decibels.
- Employ designated staff to continuously monitor sound levels.
- Provide ear plugs to audiences.
- Designate ‘quiet zones’ in venues so people can rest their ears.
- Optimize venue acoustics and sound systems to ensure safe listening.
- Provide training on safe sound levels to staff.
The organisation said millions of teenagers and young people are at particular risk due to the unsafe use of headphones and the damaging sound levels in venues.
It is urging young people to lower the volume on their headphones, use well-fitted or noise cancelling headphones, wear earplugs at noisy venues and get regular hearing check-ups.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Hidden Hearing Audiologist Dolores Madden said more and more young people are losing their hearing.
“We have been researching this over the last couple of years and the WHO are now worried about it because there are 466 million people in the world with hearing loss,” she said.
“There was only 300 million people suffering from it 2010 and what they are saying is that by 2050, there will be 900 million people.
“The big part of that is young people are getting hearing loss earlier than they would have years ago.”
Ms Madden said any time you find your ears are ringing after a night out or a concert, “that’s your ears telling you that you’ve tolerated a high level of sound for too long”.
“There is rule called the 60/60 rule,” she said. “It means you should listen to noise for no longer than 60 minutes at 60 decibels. That is really what the ear likes to listen to sound at.”
The audiologist said general traffic noise is about 70 decibels while a chainsaw is about 120 decibels.
She said the main message for young people is just to be aware of what they are listening to.
“Have that awareness and turn the volume down,” she said. “Listen to it for 60 minutes and turn the volume down after that.”