- Published on 10 July 2023
A new summer music festival survey by the retail group Specsavers has revealed an alarming degree of disregard in young people for the hearing hazards of loud noise at these essential seasonal gatherings.
An ample 81 percent of festivalgoers admit they often leave such events with their ears ringing, which could be damaging their hearing. One fifith of those surveyed (19%) say they love the sheer noise of a festival, while 16 percent said there is nothing better than the feeling of the bass running through their bones. As if asking for hearing damage, 11% of under 30s say they always stand next to the speakers at a gig or festival.
According to this research of 2,000 UK based adults, commissioned by Specsavers and conducted by Perspectus Global in June 2023, almost half of those surveyed (46%) are convinced that their hearing has been damaged because of the loud noise.
Sunscreen, toothbrush, wet wipes all priorities...what about ear defence?
A huge 92 percent of those questioned also didn’t know that it can take just five minutes for hearing damage to occur at a festival, with over half (52%) also admitting they have never had a hearing test.
The new research also revealed that less than a third (32%) say they have worn or wear ear plugs or ear defenders at a festival or a concert. In fact, items to protect their hearing were at the bottom of the list of festival essentials for those surveyed, with only 19 percent saying they would bring ear plugs and even fewer (12%) saying they would prioritise taking ear defenders.
The top essentials on the festival packing list included: water bottles (67%), sunscreen (59%), sunglasses (59%), wet wipes (56%), and a toothbrush (56%). Half those surveyed (49%) always pack a hat, while 44 percent never forget painkillers.
Experts call for festivalgoers to protect their ears so they can enjoy music
"It is vitally important to look after your hearing, especially when at festivals, gigs, concerts or anywhere just in general where’s there’s with loud music or noise," says Specsavers' chief audiologist Gordon Harrison. "Wearing hearing protection, such as ear defenders can really help, and having regular hearing checks can help identify and manage of hearing loss symptoms and minimise any long-term impact.”
A DJ who learned too late what hearing damage means
One regular on the festival scene, and someone who adds his voice to Specsavers' plea for a sensible approach to listening to music, is Simon Baker a successful DJ/producer who had releases on labels such as Kompa Kt, Cocoon and Last Night On Earth. He developed tinnitus due to over-exposure to loud noise during a "dream career" as a touring DJ, music producer and sound engineer.
I had been surrounded by loud music for years and never thought much of it. I wasn't particularly taking that much care of my health in my early days, and I wasn’t too aware of the impact my lifestyle could have been having on my health, and then I developed tinnitus which led to a lot of stress."
"My tinnitus started low level but increased over time, it really made me worry about the impact it could have on my life and career. Now, I want to encourage everyone to be aware of how to prevent tinnitus. The most important things are to wear ear protection in loud places and get your ears tested regularly," affirmed DJ Baker.
UK nightspot industry campaigning to protect hearing employees and punters
Festival organiser BIff Mitchell (Glastonbuy and Beautiful Days) has joined other experts in advising a campaign by the UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which is embracing the spirit and sense of the World Health Organisation’s Make Listening Safe campaign, by taking the initiative on a campaign involving owners of clubs and venues.