Student launches website to warn peers about hearing loss


Three-quarters of youngsters in Flanders have experienced temporary ringing in the ears, and 15% have the condition permanently, figures that one KU Leuven student finds appalling

An epidemic?

A University of Leuven (KU Leuven) student has launched the online platform De Tuut van Tegenwoordig (The Buzz of Today) to warn other young people about the risk of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Bert Lecomte, 21, has suffered from the condition for three years.

A study at Antwerp University Hospital among 5,000 Flemings between the ages of 14 and 25 demonstrated that about 15% suffered from a permanent ringing in the ears. A striking three-quarters of them had experienced temporarily tinnitus, largely caused by a lack of ear protection when attending concerts. Flanders has one of the largest number of summer music festivals per capital in Europe.

“In the media, you only find stories about people with tinnitus who get depressed,” Lecomte told Het Laatste Nieuws. “We want to have a more positive message, trying to prevent tinnitus but also providing advice and exchanging experiences on how to deal with it.”

The goal of De Tuut, which was designed by about 20 young people with tinnitus, raises awareness about the consequences of not using ear plugs but also provides information about the condition, tips on how to deal with it and testimonial videos by musicians.

The initiative is supported by three ambassadors who all suffer from tinnitus: TV host Sean Dhondt, pop singer Ian Thomas and radio host Karolien Debecker. About a dozen other Flemish musicians and celebrities are helping to promote the campaign.

De Tuut van Tegenwoordig is also supported by Artevelde University College in Ghent, Ghent University, and the Leuven and Antwerp University Hospitals.

Photo courtesy De Tuut van Tegenwoordig