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Is partying making you go deaf?

November 5, 2012
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nightclubThe nightclub scene thrives on people looking for a place to blow off steam and dance till their feet hurt. But all this while, there's something that nobody is thinking of, something that can't go away with an aspirin or a foot massage the next morning - the ringing in the ears, according to a report in the Times of India. They say the louder, the better, but what about our hearing that becomes collateral damage of too much partying?

Coupled with lack of awareness of the medical repercussions, being exposed to too much noise in nightclubs can cause major damage to hearing. And that's true not just for the partygoer — even the cool DJ at the console, or the scary bouncer at the doors is at massive risk.

When high-end nightclub LAP re-launched recently, guests at the inaugural bash were seen holding their ears on the dance floor even as the floor shook with the intensity of the music's volume. That's not an unfamiliar scene in cities.

A recent study done in Ireland has found that nightclub employees could be exposed to dangerously high noise levels, putting them at greater risk for hearing loss. Study author Aoife Kelly said that over time, noise exposure greater than 85 decibels for eight hours a day can lead to permanent hearing loss. Work safety laws in the European Union require hearing protection to be provided to workers exposed to more than 85 decibels, but there's no such thing in India. We asked several nightclub owners, DJs and club hoppers if they know what their ears are in for when they enter a nightclub.

Indian clubs too loud

Quotes from experts:

“Any noise beyond 90 decibels leads to hearing damage, and it actually becomes painful beyond 120 decibels. And in nightclubs, the noise can easily go up to 120 decibels. Legally, in factories, you can't have workers exposed to sound beyond 85 decibels, but there's no such thing for nightclubs here.” -ENT consultant Dr Anup Sabherwal

“Five to 10% of my patients complain of hearing problems because of the music in nightclubs.” - Dr Dhirendra Singh

“There are many DJs who used to be my favourite, but aren't anymore because they have started playing bad music as they have lost 30-40% of their hearing. They destroy other people's ears also! - DJ Iggy

In front of the speakers in a club, the sound is generally 95 decibels, so on the floor it's less than that. In hardcore dance places in India, however, the sound is often a maximum of 105 decibels on the dance floor.: – a sound engineer

Partygoers can't hear properly after coming out of a club

Most partygoers agree that once they come out of the club, they have to shout to talk and strain to hear because their ears are ringing. While in some cases the ringing lasts for only a few minutes, in some more worrisome cases it lasts from an hour to a day.

Amita Sinha, a journalist, says, "They play music so loudly in all the clubs, you can feel even your heart thumping. My ears ring for half an hour afterwards - even when I am outside, and I have to strain myself to hear softer sounds like people speaking. The loud sound of music makes me feel dizzy and I begin to sweat, like you do when you are stressed. I really think people should lower the volume inside these places. As it is it is so closed, and there are so many people talking... what is the need to play music at a volume that will kill you? But also, why provide earplugs and all that? Do I go to a pub to feel sick or ill, or enjoy myself ? Why can't there be different sections for people who want to dance to loud music and people who just want to chill with some lounge music?"

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