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Study: Just 1 Loud Concert, Sporting Event Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – How loud is too loud?

New research finds that just one loud rock concert or sporting event could cause permanent hearing damage.

“I think I’m already somewhere between healthy and Ozzy Osbourne already, so I could be in trouble,” one¬†Manhattan man told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer.

“You hear a little ringing in your ears but it’s also fun,” another concertgoer said.

Researchers say though the ringing in your ears may fade following a loud event, the damage from even one such event is there to stay.

“The nerve transmission is altered and it’s altered permanently,” said Dr. Eric Smouha, director of otology and neurology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

That kind of damage isn’t picked up during a traditional hearing test, Dr. Smouha noted.

He points to a study where mice were exposed to loud noise for two hours.

“They looked not at the hearing level but they looked at the nerve endings and what they found is that the nerve endings separated themselves from the receptor cells in the inner ear so they weren’t functioning well,” Dr. Smouha told Gainer.

That means that while you can still hear OK days after a noisy event, the nerve damage affects your comprehension.

“The processing of the sound that you hear is mangled, it’s garbled,” said Dr. Smouha. “They will have more trouble making sense of what you’re saying.”

There are several things you can do to help prevent this nerve damage from happening, including wearing ear plugs, keeping your distance from speakers and avoiding repeated exposure to high volumes.

“I always tell people who¬†use an iPad or personal device to use two-thirds the maximum volume,” said Dr. Smouha.

If you’re going to a concert, the upper level seats will go easier on your wallet and your ears.

“The view is better in the front but the sound effects are worse,” Dr. Smouha told Gainer.

There’s currently no test that can assess nerve function. Dr. Smouha said the new findings will mean new tests will need to be developed.

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