A new survey, carried out to mark the launch of a partnership between Specsavers Hearcare, Guernsey, United Kingdom, and Deafness Research UK, London, found that 14% of people spend up to 28 hours a week listening to their personal music player. More than a third of people who have experienced ringing in their ears after listening to loud music, listen to their MP3 player every day. Ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is a sign of damage to their hearing.

Over the next year, Specsavers Hearcare has pledged to raise £100,000 for Deafness Research UK and help raise awareness of hearing loss, which affects one in seven of the UK population and is the nation’s second most common disability.

Vivienne Michael, chief executive of Deafness Research UK, says: “Many young people are regularly using MP3 players for long periods of time and are frighteningly unaware of the fact that loud noise can permanently damage your hearing.”

“More than three quarters of people own a personal music player and sophisticated sound systems in their car and homes, which allow them to blast out music day and night. We also spend more time today in bars and clubs where the noise is so loud we can barely hear the person opposite us and few people—particularly the 16-34 year old age group—are aware of the damaging effect all this can have on their hearing.”

The survey also revealed that less than half the population has ever had a hearing test, many of which may have taken place years ago when they were at school.

“Hearing loss can make life unbearable,” she says. “It cuts people off from their family and friends and makes everyday communication extremely difficult. We want people to realize that their hearing is as important as their sight and protect their ears against any potential damage.”

The survey also found that:

  • 38% of 16-34 year olds are not aware that listening to loud music on a personal music player, going to loud bars/nightclubs/concerts, playing loud music in the car, or working with machinery can damage their hearing.
  •     28% of 16-34 year olds visit noisy bars, pubs, or nightclubs once or twice a week.
  • 82% of people who have experienced tinnitus after listening to loud music go to nightclubs; of these, a quarter goes once a week or more. 

[SOURCE: Deafness Research UK, July 20, 2006]