June 16th, 2010
01:10 PM ET
By Madison Park
Cape Town, South Africa (CNN) - Lips don't lie.
If you're looking for the culprits who've killed your hearing at the World Cup, just look for swollen lips.
The incessant buzz of vuvuzelas is inescapable. Vuvuzelas - the plastic horns seen throughout South Africa's packed stadiums - sound like trumpeting elephants or even extended flatulence.
As World Cup events proceed, people pick up vuvuzelas and let out a long wail for no reason at all, and resume their day while in bars, stores and the streets.
Besides complaints from soccer players about the noise, the controversial plastic trumpets cause some health problems. There are the obvious hearing problems after sitting in a cramped stadium clustered with 60,000 fans, each armed with a high-decibel emitting vuvuzela. Earplugs are in high-demand at drug stores, most have sold out.
They can also spread germs. A London study found that droplets spray from the end of the vuvuzela and warned fans not to use them if they are sick.
Dr. Ruth McNerney from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine warned that if someone with a chest or throat infection uses the vuvuzela in a crowded place, he could spread their infection to lots of people.
Then there is "vuvuzela lips" where frequent users' lips have swelled twice in size - almost as if they've suffered bee stings.
"Sometimes when I blow for a long time, it can be swollen," said Romeo Martin, a Cape Town resident who admits to blowing his red plastic vuvuzela more than 100 times a day.
So why does he do it?
Martin shrugged. "Just for the World Cup," he replied. "When Bafana Bafana (the South African national team) is playing, everyone blows vuvuzelas."
It prompted one Facebook user to comment, "Who needs collagen ... get yourself a vuvuzela," according to The Cape Argus, a local Cape Town paper. It also dispensed advice on preventing vuvuzela lips: baby oil or Vaseline, and a cold drink after all the blowing to reduce the swelling.
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