MORE than a third of tinnitus sufferers blame dancing the night away to loud music in their hedonistic heyday for their hearing condition.
The poll, of 1,000 adults over 40 with impaired hearing, found 22 per cent blame gigs, raves and festivals when they were younger.
And 61 per cent even remember experiencing ringing in their ears after a gig – one of the early warning signs of tinnitus.
When reflecting on their younger years, 82 per cent adults admitted they did not worry about the affect on their hearing.
As a result, 48 per cent wish they could turn back time and protect their hearing from an earlier age, with 45 per cent claiming they’d be more mindful of how it can be damaged in loud environments.
The research, commissioned by Specsavers for Tinnitus Week, aims to educate Brits on signs of the common hearing condition that can sound like ringing, humming, or buzzing in the ear.
It comes after data from Tinnitus UK estimated a third of people will experience tinnitus in their lifetime – as many as 22.9 million people across the UK.
Gordon Harrison, chief audiologist at Specsavers , said: “You should always consider how you can protect your hearing before heading into noisy environments.
“Listening to loud sounds without appropriate protection can cause long-term damage to your hearing, especially for younger adults and children, who are much more sensitive to sound.
“Hearing protection and ear plugs can be helpful, as can regular breaks away from the noise.
"Avoid standing in front of speaker too and exercise caution when wearing headphones.
“To stay safe, never listen to music above 60 per cent volume and try to give your ears regular breaks from headphones.”
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The study also found 38 per cent of those with hearing difficulties said older age was a major contributor, while 29 per cent said ear infections and built-up earwax is a cause.
Others cite working in noisy environments such as factories, clubs or construction (29 per cent) for their current hearing issues.
Sadly, 51 per cent of those with reported tinnitus claim it is severe, and of these, 27 per cent are affected on a daily basis, as with they struggle to concentrate (44 per cent), sleep (42 per cent) and listen to music (30 per cent).
Caroline Savage, interim chief executive of Tinnitus UKsaid: “This Tinnitus Week, we’re highlighting to people that noise exposure is the single biggest preventable cause of tinnitus and reminding them to look after their ears.
“If you’re doing something that’s loud, even for a couple of minutes, use hearing protection.
"That way you can carry on enjoying your favourite activity, whether that’s DIY or dancing, motorbiking or music.
“We want protecting your ears to be second nature – the same way we belt up when we get in the car or put on sunscreen when we’re outdoors.”
Of the parents who were surveyed, 62 per cent are worried their children will also suffer from hearing difficulties if precautions are not taken now.
As a result, 66 per cent are proactively warning their children of the dangers of overexposing their ears so they don’t suffer the same way later in life.
More than half (53 per cent) try to warn them by explaining the hearing issues they face, while 47 per cent give them guidance on volume limits and 31 per cent turn their music and TV volume down.
But the research, carried out via OnePoll found that, despite their best efforts, one fifth said their children ignore their warnings.
Gordon Harrison, at Specsavers added: “It’s great to see parents educating their kids on hearing difficulties and the potential risks involved when exposed to loud sounds such as live music, headphones or noisy working environments.
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“Our hearing is incredibly important and can bring us so much joy, particularly when listening to music, but it must be done safely to ensure your hearing remains protected.”
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