Objective: Leisure activities that emit high noise levels have the potential to expose participants to excessive noise exposure, which can result in hearing damage. This study investigated young people's participation in high-noise leisure activities and the relationship between their leisure noise exposure, symptoms of hearing damage, and perception of risk.
Design: Participants completed an online survey relating to participation in selected high-noise leisure activities, symptoms of hearing damage, and beliefs about the risk posed by these activities.
Study sample: One thousand 18- to 35-year-old Australian adults completed the survey.
Results: Annual noise exposure from the five leisure activities ranged from 0-6.77 times the acceptable noise exposure, with nightclubs posing the greatest risk. Those who attended one noisy activity were more likely to attend others, in particular nightclubs, pubs, and live music events. Noise exposure was correlated with early warning signs of hearing damage and perceived risk of damage.
Conclusions: Active young adults who engage in noisy activities are showing early signs of hearing damage. Furthermore, they perceive the risk associated with their activities. The challenge for researchers and hearing health practitioners is to convert self-perceived risk into positive hearing health behaviours for long-term hearing health.