OBJECTIVES: Concerts have long periods of intense sound with short break intervals. Hearing concerns are well known to performers; concertgoers largely ignore them. Preperformance and postperformance audiograms were compared to assess hearing threshold shifts with and without earplugs. METHODS: A prospective, randomized study in which 29 volunteers attended 3 concerts, encompassing 3 music genres. Audiograms, seating location, sound intensity, and earplug-use data were collected. Data were analyzed to determine frequency test-retest variability. RESULTS: Sound levels averaged 99.8 dBA, and the maximum was 125.6 dBA. Sixty-four percent (9/14) of participants without earplugs showed significant threshold shifts compared with 27% (4/15) of those using earplugs. No significant differences existed between music genres or seating location. CONCLUSIONS: This study showed a high incidence of threshold shifts in unprotected concertgoers. Sound levels exceeded all Occupational Safety and Health Act rules despite standardized sound systems. A significant reduction in threshold shifts was seen with the use of earplugs. EBM rating: A-1b
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