‘A lot to lose’ – noise exposure and tinnitus
“I take full responsibility for it, I should have worn earplugs for gigs - I didn’t do it until it was too late and the ringing didn’t stop.”
There is currently no cure for tinnitus, and the impact of the condition on quality of life and mental health can be severe.
Noise exposure is the most common preventable cause of tinnitus and hearing loss.
Noise starts to become a risk to hearing at 80dB, and in a working environment, hearing protection should be provided at 85dB or above. Although there is legislation in place to protect hearing in the workplace, there is no such legal status for noise outside of the working environment.
Studies have shown that the use of hearing protection in certain groups, such as musicians and young people, is quite low. We conducted a broader survey asking about tinnitus and noise exposure in December 2022.
Our survey showed that:
- Over one third (35%) of people believed that their tinnitus was caused by loud noise exposure. This could mean that 2.7 million adults in the UK had their condition triggered by noise.
- Twice as many men (48%) as women (24%) claimed noise exposure as a reason for their tinnitus
- Shockingly, four out of ten (39%) respondents who were exposed to noise at work “never” used hearing protection and only a quarter (24%) “always” or “sometimes” used hearing protection.
- These numbers were even lower for the use of hearing protection for leisure activities, with numbers ranging from 8% to 29% for the most commonly undertaken pursuits.
That’s why we are calling for people to:
- Always wear appropriate hearing protection when in a loud place, and working with loud equipment
- Avoid being exposed to excessive noise for long periods
- Replace hearing protection if it is worn or damaged
- Have their hearing checked regularly
Read more about our survey, the varying noise exposure levels in every day life and the stories of people who wished they had plugged’em in our report ‘A lot to lose: tinnitus and noise exposure’.