A 2016 study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery by Wilko Grolman, M.D., Ph.D., from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands shows that earplug use is effective in preventing temporary hearing loss caused by exposure to loud music (average of 100 A-weighted decibels) over several hours.
In the study of 51 adults (average age 27 years), researchers randomly assigned 25 people to wear earplugs provided by the researchers during an outdoor concert; the remaining 26 concertgoers did not wear earplugs. The earplugs had a noise reduction rate of 18 decibels. The researchers used standard hearing tests to measure the participants’ hearing before and after the concert, which lasted 4.5 hours.
The authors report that only eight percent of study participants who used earplugs during the concert experienced some temporary hearing loss. In comparison, 42 percent of the participants who did not use earplugs experienced some hearing loss.
Tinnitus, or ringing in your ears that can be caused by exposure to loud noise, was found in 12 percent of the participants who wore earplugs, versus 40 percent of the participants who did not use earplugs. You can read more about the study online.
About one in eight people in the United States (13 percent, or 30 million) ages 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing examinations conducted as part of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This hearing loss may have been caused by exposure to loud noise at work or in leisure activities. To help prevent noise-induced hearing loss, wear hearing protectors to limit your exposure to potentially damaging sounds.
Make sure your ears are well protected when you are in noisy environments, such as concerts or sporting events! Read more about hearing protectors on the Noisy Planet website.