TEENAGERS given powerful stereo equipment for Christmas may at the same time receive an unwanted gift - lifelong noises in the head. Exposure to loud pop music can result in tinnitus, a distressing condition in which the sufferer hears incessant sounds, in some cases likened to a road drill or jet engine.

Some 200 people experience the onset of tinnitus every day, including teenagers listening to loud pop music, says the British Tinnitus Association. Sound levels have to be down to about 80 decibels to be totally safe.