Can earplugs ever be cool?

An image showing a DJ stood in a DJ booth at a nightclub, in front of a group of young partygoers

A hearing charity is hoping to make earplugs cool by urging youngsters to wear them on nights out to protect themselves from excessively loud music.

Action on Hearing Loss (AoHL) wants to see vending machines in pub and club toilets selling colourful earplugs so they become as commonplace as contraceptive and personal hygiene product dispensers.

Gemma Twitchen, a senior audiologist working with AoHL, said: “Thanks to clever campaigns, posters and adverts over the past few decades, it is now ingrained in all of our culture and minds to grab a condom before a night out  – so let’s make earplugs a night out essential.

“The ultimate aim is to see them available in the same way that condoms are in vending machines – in a range of colours and design. You see loads of people walking up and down the high street wearing big headphones more discreet designs, so why not wear tiny earplugs at a gig or a rave?”

Tinnitus caused by exposure to loud noises is often described as ringing in the ears, however, it can also be in the form of buzzing, clicking, whooshing or humming sounds. The most recent estimates put the number of sufferers in the UK at around 1 in 10 people.

Listening to any loud noise regularly can cause conditions like tinnitus, hyperacusis and hearing loss by damaging the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, which can’t regrow. Many well-known names such as Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Star Trek actor William Shatner and actress Barbara Streisand have all spoken publicly about their diagnosis of tinnitus.  AC/DC front man Brian Johnson had to withdraw from the band’s last tour after he was told he faced permanent deafness after decades of exposure to loud rock music whilst on stage.

Many music fans, myself included, often argue that the enjoyment of music comes from the volume at which it’s played – more often than not, the louder the better! However, it’s incredibly important to look after your hearing. After all, you won’t be able to enjoy loud music at all if you suffer from hearing loss brought on by years of unprotected exposure to excessive noise levels. No, it may not be the ‘coolest’ thing on the face of it, to wear earplugs in a nightclub or at a gig, but as Gemma Twitchen rightly points out, people are already in the habit of wearing stylish headphones and earphones, so why not don a pair of fluorescent or flowery earplugs (depending on your style)?

The effects of tinnitus and hearing loss can only ever treated – they can never be cured! Make the effort to look after what you’ve got, while you’ve still got it.

Clarke Roberts

Content & Marketing Executive at Cirrus Research plc

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