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Alan’s word of advice for festival-goers as summer season continues

HEARM HEAR: Alan Thomson has suffered from tinnitus since the 1990s HEARM HEAR: Alan Thomson has suffered from tinnitus since the 1990s
By Conor McParland

A NEWTOWNABBEY man is appealing to concert-goers to protect their hearing as the summer festival season continues.
Alan Thomson was diagnosed with tinnitus in the 1990s after years of attending gigs and is urging others to be wary of the consequences.
“In my much younger days I would have been an avid music fan and attended many concerts and clubs over the years – mainly rock and heavy metal with a few good Scottish bands thrown in for good measure,” he explained.
“For as long as I can remember my ears would have been ringing for a day or so after the concert. I first noticed something was odd in the mid-90s at a Def Leppard gig.
“Towards the end of the concert the sound started to lose definition and it was almost just a screeching in my ears. My ears continued to ring for a few days following the gig.
“I went to a Prodigy gig in 1997 and was completely deaf for three days. This reduced to a loud ringing in my ears for a week or so after which has been with me ever since.”
“Thankfully, tinnitus doesn’t distract me all the time but I normally keep the radio on in background to take the edge off it. Sometimes flying or a cold will make it worse for a while. When I was young I used to get told off for having music too loud and, when the Walkman first came out, for having it up too high. I was aware to some extent, but I didn’t fully understand the impact that loud music can have on your hearing. To concert-goers now I would say, definitely wear earplugs and protect your hearing.”
In a bid to educate people about the importance of their aural health, staff and volunteers from Action on Hearing Loss will be at dozens of gigs over the coming weeks, including all Custom House Square and Belfast Vital concerts, giving away free earplugs as part of its campaign supported by the Public Health Agency.
The award-winning ‘Don’t Lose the Music’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks of loud music and encourage young people to protect their hearing.
It is estimated that as many as four million young people are at risk of hearing damage because of over amplified music. Music at a live gig can be up to 110 decibels, which is only safe to listen to for two minutes. The longer an individual listens, and the more frequently, the higher the risk of developing permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.
Claire Lavery, director at Action on Hearing Loss: added, “You don’t have to stop your love of music in order to protect yourself. Wearing earplugs means you can enjoy the music at a safer level and reduce the risk of developing irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.”

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