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One of the best ways to preserve your hearing? Don’t drink while listening to loud music


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Everyone knows that too much alcohol is bad for your health, but a new study says that it can also result in a loss of hearing.


Researchers have found that one of the best ways to save your hearing and keep your eardrums intact is to avoid alcoholic beverages, especially if you’re planning to attend music festivals and any other loud, outdoor events.


According to the study, males who opted not to wear earplugs while drinking or taking drugs were the ones who were most prone to severe hearing loss, as well as tinnitus – the medical term for ringing in the ears. They were also the ones who tended to linger near the loudspeakers during music events, especially as they consumed more alcohol.


The study involved 18 men and 33 women – all aged between 21 and 23 – who were all asked to attend an outdoor music festival in the Netherlands. Of the 51 participants, 25 were given earplugs to use.


According to Dr. Veronique Kraaijenga, one of the researchers of the study from the University Medical Centre Utrecht, among those who attended the festival, those who were not provided with ear protection were more likely to experience hearing loss if they got inebriated and used drugs. (Related: Natural help for relieving and treating tinnitus.)


Based on the findings, researchers were able to confirm that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is more likely to be developed by those who attend loud outdoor events such as music festivals, clubs, and concerts.


The team said they thought the problem was only temporary, but admitted they could not yet be sure. “Physicians should consider these factors to raise awareness about the combined risk of attending music festivals without using earplugs while consuming alcohol or drugs,” Kraaijenga added.

How alcohol increases the risk of hearing loss

Too much of a good thing is bad for you, goes the old saying. The same can be said for alcohol: While studies have linked some benefits from moderate consumption, others have found that drinking excessively can impact your health negatively. It not only affects your liver; here’s how it can damage your hearing as well:

  1. It damages the auditory nerves – Just like everything else in our body, the ears send signals to the brain so they can process whatever it is we’re currently hearing. Excessive drinking impairs a person’s auditory cortex, affecting the transfer of auditory information. Simply put, too much alcohol makes it difficult to understand what others are saying, even if our ears are not damaged.
  2. It damages ear hair cells – The sounds our ears receive are processed and transmitted by tiny hair cells present inside our ears. Drinking too much will destroy these cells, which, unfortunately, do not regenerate, and could result in hearing loss.
  3. It makes you feel dizzy – Drink too much, and the alcohol mixes with the fluid found in our inner ears. The morning after is much worse: The alcohol remains in that part of the ear even if most of the alcohol has exited the bloodstream, causing dizziness and hearing impairment.
  4. It causes tinnitus – The condition isn’t life-threatening, but it can feel and sound annoying. Technically speaking, the condition is a ringing or a buzzing sound coming from inside our ears after drinking too much alcohol. Some experience it for just a couple of hours while some, like musicians, suffer from it for a lifetime.

So the next time you’re going to a loud event, try laying off the alcohol – and put on some earplugs. You’ll thank yourself the morning after.


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