BIHIMA and Tinnitus UK are calling on young people to take better care of their hearing this festival season.

From Glastonbury to Boardmasters, Creamfields to Reading and Leeds, this summer will see festivals popping up around the UK with people from all over the world in attendance. However, despite the excitement that comes with festival season, research suggests that the prolonged exposure to loud music will put young people at greater risk of hearing loss.

More than one billion people aged 12-35 are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices when enjoying recreational sound such as music, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, recent research from Specsavers found that nearly half of young adults aged 18-44 are experiencing hearing problems, with 1 in 5 admitting these issues have impacted their lives.

Ongoing research shows that there is a direct link between festival attendance and hearing loss. Proportionally, the majority of festival goers sit in the younger age bracket: research found that 51% are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Typically, festival volume rises up to 90-100dB when outside. Step inside a festival tent and that can rise from 95-110 dB or even higher. There is no doubt that this is dangerous for your hearing: you risk hearing damage if you stay in an environment of 80dB for eight hours. Sound intensity doubles every three dB; you can therefore experience serious hearing damage at a 100dB festival in less than five minutes.

Paul Surridge, Chairman at BIHIMA (British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association), said: “There is a significant amount of evidence to show that noise exposure at festivals has a direct correlation with noise-induced hearing loss. We also know that noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus frequently occur together – over exposure to extremely high levels of sound can quickly trigger tinnitus.

“While there are several things that people can do to reduce their risk – such as wearing ear plugs, taking regular breaks and standing 3m plus away from speakers – ultimately more needs to be done to regulate safe noise levels at these kinds of events.

“If tinnitus and/or hearing loss symptoms persist following attendance at a music festival, we strongly advise you to visit an audiologist and have your hearing carefully and comprehensively tested.”

Hearing health organisations – such as BIHIMA and Tinnitus UK – are therefore calling on young people to better protect their hearing this festival season.

The Tinnitus UK Plug’em campaign aims to encourage wearing earplugs at gigs, festivals, clubs and anywhere you’re exposed to potentially dangerous noise levels. Speaking of the motivation behind the campaign, Jo March, Head of Brand and Communications at Tinnitus UK, said: “If you’re a music lover (and who isn’t?!), festivals are the ultimate playground to let loose, relax, and have a blast. But let’s keep it real — nobody wants to leave with tinnitus as an unwanted festival souvenir. Those epic festival beats and thumping bass can do some serious damage to your ears, leading to tinnitus, which can really mess with your life. We get it, your love for music shouldn’t come with a downside.

“Think about it: you slap on sunscreen to protect your skin and rock those shades to shield your eyes, right? Your ears deserve the same love! Grab some earplugs—they’re super effective, budget-friendly, and designed to keep the sound quality intact while protecting your hearing.

“I regularly talk to people whose tinnitus started with loud music, and they all wish they’d used earplugs sooner. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Protect your hearing now so you can keep enjoying festivals for years to come!”

Paul Surridge added: “A recent audiologist survey that we ran here at BIHIMA found that 32% of respondents had seen more patients under 30 in the past year. While age is the strongest indicator of hearing loss in the UK, more and more young people are suffering from some form of hearing loss: however, we still need more young people to recognise and prioritise their hearing health.

“We know that the longer hearing loss is left untreated, the worse the symptoms can become. We aren’t asking young people not to attend live music events, but to take the necessary steps to look after – and, if necessary, follow up with an assessment – their hearing when in attendance.”