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Without Protection, Summer Concert Season Could Be Hard On Young Ears

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In tonight's health watch, summer is prime time for concerts, but beware if you leave with ringing in your ears.

Most of us don't pay attention to the damage loud music can do to our hearing, but as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, a new study might change your thinking.

"Hearing loss is getting worse in young individuals. There's been some national studies that have shown that more young people than ever have hearing loss at a younger age," Dr. Todd Hillman explained. "Young people have this idea it's not going to happen to them. They aren't thinking long-term. Their ears are stronger than the average person."

A study from the Netherlands shows our ears are not so strong. A group of 50 young people with an average age of 27, were randomly assigned to use earplugs, or not, at a 4.5 hour long outdoor music festival in Amsterdam.

Then, hearing tests were done. It turns out, the group that wore ear plugs had no temporary hearing loss, half of the group that went without did.

"So if someone was going to a concert every week, for instance, that temporary hearing loss can turn into a permanent loss," Dr. Hillman said.

The main objection to hearing protection is that it distorts the music, but there are a number of neutral, non-distorting ear plugs that professional musicians use, and their livelihood depends on hearing.

The hi-fi ear plugs aren't inexpensive - running about $20 to $20 a pair - but with many concert tickets going for well into the triple figures, it seems like a small price to pay to protect something that's irreplaceable.



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