Support Your stories I began to take control We know that most club nights, gigs and festivals are on hold at the moment. But we thought it was an important time to reflect on why it’s so necessary to use hearing protection when you are in a loud environment. We hope that when things do get back to normal, you can go back out there prepared, using earplugs, ready to safely face the music. Here is Jenny’s story. She contacted us wanting to share what happened to her, in the hope it might make others think about what could happen to them, and why it’s so important to wear earplugs. “I’ve always loved live music. The anticipation, the atmosphere, the feeling of belonging; it’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I would occasionally notice a faint, temporary ringing in my ears after a gig - it felt a little like a badge of honour, a remnant of the night. Back then, the closer I could be to the front and the louder the music, the better. I soon noticed that I didn't have my earplugs. Not concerned, I naively thought that this one gig without them wouldn’t matter My ‘let’s get to the front’ mentality changed as I got older, however my passion for gigs remained, resulting in a career in the industry. Attending shows - sometimes 3 or 4 a week - became the norm. I would wear foam earplugs as sometimes when there was an unexpected loud noise from the stage, it hurt my ears. It was only on one isolated occasion that I didn’t wear them was all that it took for the damage to be done. Arriving at Wembley Stadium in June 2014 with a group of friends I was excited for the night ahead, however I soon noticed that I didn't have my earplugs. Not concerned, I naively thought that this one gig without them wouldn’t matter. Waking up the following morning I knew something was very wrong, and so began the process of endless ENT appointments, tests and even an MRI scan. All whilst my ears were screaming. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep properly or rest again - I felt in a constant state of high alert. I stopped listening to music, I stopped socialising with my friends, I stopped exercising; I didn’t want to do anything that could make the noise worse. My life felt like it had come crashing down overnight. Being diagnosed with tinnitus at 24 wasn’t exactly how I imagined my twenties to go, however with the aid of CBT, a sound conditioner at night and a supportive network around me, I slowly began the process of trying to rebuild my life and confidence. Over the following years, I began to take control.Six years on from my diagnosis, I continue to work in the industry however I never leave the house without my custom earplugs. My tinnitus occasionally peaks and comes to the front of my consciousness, namely when I’m either hungover, stressed, anxious or dehydrated, but it’s ultimately made me far more conscious of my health in general. Concerts should be a safe space for all, and earplugs are as important as wearing a seatbelt in a car or sunglasses when it’s a bright day. So many fans attend shows either without hearing protection or feel like they don’t need to, not having the knowledge of the devastating consequences that could result. I know I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to live alongside this condition and no longer feel like it rules my life, however there are many who aren't as fortunate”. Huge thanks to Jenny for sharing her story. If you would like more information on protecting your ears, please go to www.plugem.co.uk, the BTA’s tinnitus prevention website, to find out more.