Too much already!
How long are we going to let ourselves keep damaging our hearing? Now that the civilized world has laws protecting our health in public places (like smoking bans), can we now include our hearing as something we would like to protect?
A recent study by the House Ear Clinic confirmed what many of us already knew, exposure to loud noise, such as that which we experience in a music concert, can cause irreversible damage to our hearing and can cause tinnitus. Hearing tests on individuals who just attended a concert without earplugs show a decrease in hearing following the concert and many cases of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a noise in the ear, usually a ringing or buzzing TTS stands for Temporary Threshold Shift and is common after attending a concert. With TTS, the hair cells in the inner ear are "knocked down" by the physical force of the loud sound waves. Many times they will recover but sometimes they don't. If they don't recover, this can become a permanent condition and something that will have to be dealt with the rest of your life!
What can be done about this? Well, for one, you can avoid loud music altogether. Don't go to concerts, don't use headphones, and don't crank up your home or car stereo. However, there are many people who cannot avoid these things or simply don't want to give these things up. For those people it is imperative that earplugs are used when exposed to these situations. We can also turn down the volume and take lots of breaks. If you do experience a sudden onset of hearing loss or tinnitus it is extremely important to get to an Ear Nose Throat Doctor(ENT) ASAP. A Hearing Test is also strongly recommended.
What about those who are ignorant about the harmful effects of loud noise? Many of these people find out about it after it's too late and the damage has been done. Do we continue to make people find out about noise damage the hard way? Many of these "victims" are teenagers and kids and we simply are not doing enough to protect them from permanent ear damage.
So what can we do? It sometimes is very difficult to convince others to turn it down or even just to wear earplugs. Even when venues hand out earplugs free of charge, many still choose to expose their ears and decline to use them so they can get the "full experience."
I believe that in the near future any public place will have regulations in place that limit the decibel levels to less harmful, and in my opinion, more enjoyable listening levels. In the meantime, listener beware!