On the run-up to New Year, most of us stock-up with remedies for a sore head, bloated tummy, itching eyes and a bout of flu. But have you ever stopped to consider your hearing?
The festive season can be a major trigger of new cases of tinnitus, which now affects around 10% of the population. Prolonged exposure to loud noise - at clubs, concerts and New Year's Eve firework displays - is linked to the condition, as is the use of MP3 players at high volumes. For people with tinnitus, the Christmas holiday period can be an especially tough time. Many learn to cope, day-by-day, by modifying their lifestyle. Without their normal daily routine, it can be difficult to ignore the constant, tell-tale whistling or ringing.
To protect your ears, it's well worth investing in a pair of good quality, customised ear plugs. Most are very discreet and won't compromise your enjoyment - but they do need to be fitted correctly. Limiting exposure to high noise levels will also help, as will standing a safe distance away from speakers and firework launch areas. If you do experience 'ringing in your ears' that doesn't go away after a few days, it's important to seek medical advice.