Ear plugs are ‘as important as condoms’ on a night out and should be sold in pubs and clubs, experts say

  • Charity Action on Hearing Loss wants ear plug vending machines at clubs
  • Ear protection should be multi-coloured to help make wearing plugs ‘cool’
  • Tinnitus is defined as a ringing, buzzing, whooshing or humming in the ears
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Ear plugs are as essential on a night out as condoms, a charity has said.

Action on Hearing Loss (AoHL) is urging people to protect themselves from tinnitus in the same way they use contraception to ward off sexually transmitted infections.

The charity wants to see vending machines in pub and club toilets selling colourful ear plugs to help make them ‘cool’.

Ear plugs are as essential on a night out as condoms, a charity has said (stock)

Gemma Twitchen, senior audiologist for AoHL, said: ‘Thanks to clever campaigns, posters and adverts over the past few decades it is now ingrained in all of our culture and minds to grab a condom before a night out – because safe sex is a given.  

‘So let’s make ear plugs a night out essential. 

‘The ultimate aim is to see them available in the same way that condoms are in vending machines – in a range of colours and design, perhaps hold off on flavoured ones though!

‘You see loads of people walking up and down the High Street wearing big headphones, iPods and more discreet designs, so why not wear tiny ear plugs at a gig or a rave? 

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She added: ‘They do not make you look uncool and they do not stop you from enjoying the music as people usually think – they help protect your hearing, which is something we all take for granted.

‘What is the point in risking your health for a good night out, be protected and plug up your ears – better to be safe than sorry.’


Tinnitus is the name for hearing noises, such as ringing, buzzing or hissing, that are not caused by an outside source, according to the NHS.

It occurs due to damage to the cochlear hair cells in the inner ear, which stretch and contract in accordance with sound-induced vibrations.

Very loud noises – at a nightclub or played over headphones – can overload these cells, leaving them temporarily or permanently damages.

The damage forces other parts of the ear to overwork to compensate for the loss of function, which leads to tinnitus and eventually chronic hearing loss.

Some 15 per cent of adults in the UK suffer from tinnitus, according to figures.

There is no cure.

Treatment focuses on counselling and therapies to help people find ways of coping with their condition and reducing any anxiety it causes. 

Tinnitus retraining therapy uses sound therapy to retrain the brain to tune out and be less aware of ringing and buzzing noises.

Deep breathing, yoga and joining support groups can also help. 

Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears, however, many sufferers report hearing buzzing, clicking, whooshing or humming.

The condition can be due to age-related hearing loss but has also been linked to exposure to loud noise.

Symptoms of the incurable condition – which affects around 6million people in the UK and 20million in the US – can last anywhere from a few hours to permanent damage.

Listening to any loud noises regularly can cause both tinnitus and hearing loss by damaging the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, which cannot regrow.

Loud noises are defined as being around the 85 decibels mark – similar to city traffic. 

Good Morning Britain co-anchor Susanna Reid took to Twitter in October last year complaining of a constant ringing in her ears that was ‘so loud’.

The broadcaster was diagnosed with tinnitus more than a decade ago after the birth of her second son Finn, now 13. 

She has blamed ‘a difficult labour’ for the onset of her condition.

Coldplay front man Chris Martin, Star Trek actor William Shatner and actress Barbara Streisand have also all been diagnosed with tinnitus. 

The British Tinnitus Association states: ‘It is not a disease or illness; it is a symptom generated within the auditory system and usually caused by an underlying condition.

‘The noise may be in one or both ears, or it may feel like it is in the head. It is difficult to pinpoint its exact location.

‘It may be low, medium or high pitched and can be heard as a single noise or as multiple components.’


A ‘rock chick’ developed tinnitus after going to gigs for years without any ear protection.

Jessica Berg, 31, from Newport, Wales, woke up two-and-a-half years ago with an incessant high-pitched ringing in her ears.

When the irritation was still there two weeks later, her GP referred her to an audiologist, who diagnosed Ms Berg with the condition.  

Far from just affecting her hearing, Ms Berg’s diagnosis gave her anxiety and affected her self-esteem.  

Ms Berg – who is fronting Action on Hearing Loss’ #DontLoseTheMusic campaign – is speaking out to encourage people to wear ear plugs on a night out.

Jessica Berg (pictured) woke up two-and-a-half years ago with an incessant high-pitched ringing in her ears. The ‘rock chick’ was diagnosed with tinnitus after years of going to gigs without wearing ear protection. She is speaking out to warn others 

Speaking of her condition, Ms Berg said: ‘One morning I woke up with a high-pitched noise in my head. 

‘I didn’t know where it came from, there was no big moment, no loud bang, not even a big night out the night before, but two weeks down the line it had not stopped.’ 

After being referred to an audiologist, Ms Berg discovered her tinnitus was the result of years of listening to loud music.

‘I’m a bit of a rock chick, and I love going to gigs and listening to loud music,’ she said. 

But having tinnitus stopped Ms Berg from wanting to go out. 

‘I started suffering with depression, feeling anxious in crowds, and my self-worth took a nose dive,’ she said. 

‘Tinnitus was fighting me on all fronts, making everything I used to do feel impossible.’

It was not until she went on holiday with friends that Ms Berg realised she could still enjoy life while having tinnitus.  

Ms Berg wants to encourage people to protect their hearing and believes she would not have the condition if she had been more careful. 

‘I had never even heard of tinnitus and certainly had never been advised to wear ear protection in loud places,’ she said. 

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