Tinnitus: You don't want to experience it at a music festival

Loud concerts can leave your ears ringing. However, the consequences are far, far worse than "only" tinnitus. Now pay attention.

Loud concerts can leave your ears ringing. However, the consequences are far, far worse than “only” tinnitus. Now pay attention.

Ringing in the ear after a very loud rock concert can be a sign that the ear has been damaged. Here, of course, we mean hearing loss.


In 2017, about 13 percent of all Danes suffered, i.e. about half a million people, from the disease “ringing in the ears” (tinnitus). This was revealed in an extensive study in that country.


This represented a 1.6 percent increase from 2010. The vast majority of tinnitus sufferers were older men.


In Sweden , comparable figures are even higher. It is estimated that tinnitus affects about 15% of the population. This corresponds to half a million people. In Iceland, the percentage is very similar, but here it is estimated that between 10-20% of everyone suffers from tinnitus.


Similar rates can be found in the UK and various European countries.


Serious consequences

It is advisable to take ringing in the ear seriously. Because it’s not “just” that sudden sound of boredom that’s the problem. The main problem lies in the consequences, which manifest themselves in impaired hearing and the disease tinnitus.


Only a third of tinnitus sufferers do not experience any other complications.


The other two-thirds suffer from depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, sound sensitivity and jaw tension. This was revealed in an extensive British study conducted at the University of Nottingham in 2016.


Below the picture you can read about the causes of tinnitus.

This is how the ear perceives sound

The outer ear directs the sound inside

The sound waves produced by a band or singer reach the outer ear. From there, the waves travel through the ear canal and into the eardrum in the middle ear.

Sound activates the tympanic membrane of the middle ear

The sound waves hit the eardrum, which begins to vibrate. Exactly as happens with drum skin. The movement activates three tiny bones – the hammer, anvil and stapes – which amplify the sound and send it through a membrane to the inner ear.

The inner ear converts sound into messages

The inner ear is filled with fluid that begins to move when the sound waves arrive. The movements stimulate thousands of tiny, highly sensitive hair cells that generate electrical impulses. The brain interprets the invitations as sound, thanks to the auditory nerve.

This is why tinnitus is heard

The cochlea of the ear has a cochlear shape, as the name suggests. Inside the cochlea are thousands of hair cells in a viscous liquid. As the cochlea tapers continuously towards the center, different hair cells are stimulated according to the frequency of the sound.

The movements of the hair cells are eventually converted into electrical signals that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain.

After a loud concert, many of these hair cells are likely to be overstimulated to such an extent that they continue to send signals to the brain even after the music stops.

It is these signals that we hear as a ringing in the ear. Usually the sound stops after a while. Those who repeatedly listen to loud music or are often in loud noises are at risk of persistent tinnitus. This is the seriously unpleasant condition known as ‘tinnitus’.

This is up to the ears

A loud, normal conversation is around 60 decibels. At around 90 decibels, the volume becomes so high that we need to protect our ears if we spend a long time in such noise, for example on a construction site.

A rock concert can reach around 120 decibels.

The pain threshold, which is what an unprotected ear can bear to hear, is around 125 decibels. Such noise is created, for example, when a jet takes off.

The decibel limit at which the eardrum explodes is around 180 decibels. Such a noise can be heard, for example, if you stand next to a cannon being fired or next to an exploding bomb.

The above decibel limits also depend on pitch (Hz), air temperature, air humidity and distance.

Sound is measured using different methods depending on the information sought.

Hertz: Pitch is measured in hertz, Hz. Hertz tells the number of waves per second and therefore indicates the frequency of the sound. 1 Hz thus corresponds to one oscillation per second.

Decibels: However, the sound intensity is measured as decibels, db(A). Decibelsthe scale is logarithmic, so an increase of 3 dB equals a doubling of the noise level. A doubling of 80 db(A) is not 160 db(A), but 83 db(A).

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