HEARING TIPS

Large summer concert crowd of people in front of a stage at night who should be concerned about hearing protection

Summertime has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these activities are going back to normal.

But sometimes this can cause problems. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s caused your ears to ring. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.

But it’s ok. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.

How to know your hearing is suffering

So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that air show or concert?
Because you’ll be fairly distracted, naturally.

You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to prevent severe injury:

  • Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is taking place. You shouldn’t necessarily ignore tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has happened.
  • Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Excessive volume can lead to a pounding headache. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter environment.

This list is not complete, of course. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can harm these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.

And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So looking out for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.

It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms whatsoever. Any exposure to loud noise will lead to damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.

What should you do when you notice symptoms?

You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody notices and is immediately captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)

Here are a few options that have various levels of effectiveness:

  • You can go somewhere less noisy: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is really your best option. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. So if your symptoms are serious, consider getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
  • Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! Essentially, move further away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
  • Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
  • Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than no protection. So there’s no reason not to have a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • Use anything to block your ears: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are loudest. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover up and safeguard your ears. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.

Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?

So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly interested in safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But if you work in your garage daily restoring your old Chevelle with power tools, or if you have season tickets to your favorite football team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s not the same.

You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these scenarios. Those steps could include the following:

  • Come in and see us: We can perform a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And it will be much easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
  • Wear professional or prescription level hearing protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
  • Get an app that monitors volume levels: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app that can do that. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. Using this strategy, the exact decibel level that will harm your ears will be obvious.

Have your cake and hear it, too

Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices when you know how loud is too loud for headphones.

Because if you really love going to see an airshow or a NASCAR race or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to keep doing that in the future. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.

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References

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/decibel-levels

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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