FOR many a Scots regiment, the Highland bagpipe was as potent in the advance toward battle as artillery and rifles.
But a survey conducted by Piper & Drummer magazine has revealed the resonating force of the pipes can damage more than the morale of enemy troops.
Half of those surveyed reported hearing loss and repetitive strain injuries after years of playing.
Some 10 per cent also reported that their passion for the pipes had led to the break-up of marriages, while 84 per cent claimed to know pipe-band members who are alcoholics.
The news comes just a week after 7,000 bandsmen and women descended on Glasgow Green to take part in the World Pipe Band Championship.
James Bousquet, an acoustics expert and bagpiper, said many band members ignored his advice to wear customised ear plugs at a cost of 60 per pair.
Mr Bousquet said: "Sounds don’t have to be uncomfortably loud to be damaging. If pipers think hearing protection is too expensive, they should consider what they pay for a new pair of ghillie brogues and ask themselves what is worth more."
Eleanor Lawson, the president of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, said:
"I have attended many piping events, and it is incredibly noisy. If you were exposed to that noise level you must be putting yourself at risk."