Hear this: There’s an easy way to protect your hearing at concerts

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Just in time for the Bruce Springsteen concert at Sprint Center Thursday night, a new study is a reminder to take along an accessory for your ears.

Baby, you were born to run. You were also born to hear. Concerts typically expose you to decibels above 100 for several hours. That can cause hair cells in the inner ear that normally dance with sound to slump. You notice it right after the concert.

"Basically, they quit functioning and so you develop a little bit of a hearing loss," said Dr. Gregory Ator, an otolaryngologist at the University of Kansas Hospital.

Then those cells rebound.

"They can come back if you're in a quiet environment,"  Dr. Ator said.

But over time, with enough concerts and other noise, those cells don't bounce back. You have permanent hearing loss.

A new study confirms a cheap, easy way to lower the chances. Researchers found that only eight percent of people who wore earplugs at one concert had temporary hearing loss compared to 42 percent who didn't wear plugs. The earplug group was also much less likely to have ringing in the ears.

Dr. Ator said if you forget to bring along earplugs, grab a piece of tissue or paper towel.

"Simply moisten it, make it a little wet, roll it up, don't stick it all the way in the ear, but just block the ear canal and that will protect you," he said.

He added that plugs typically reduce noise by about 20 decibels but won't reduce your enjoyment of the music.

The research is in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Dr. Ator said if you think the music gets louder as the night goes on, you're probably right. Sound board operators may think they need to turn up the volume as their hearing diminishes during the concert.

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