Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
And that can be an issue. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further permanent damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing long-term damage to your ears.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.
Well, if you want to avoid significant injury, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong indication that something is wrong. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. Excessive volume can lead to a pounding headache. And that’s a good indication that you should find a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t automatically neglect tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
This list isn’t complete, obviously. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these delicate hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you need to watch for secondary signs.
It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms whatsoever. Any exposure to loud sound 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 getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have different levels of effectiveness:
- You can get out of the venue: Honestly, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it will also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become severe.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the objective is to protect your ears. Try using something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly surprises you. It won’t be the most efficient way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a big speaker! Essentially, move further away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means letting go of your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a necessary break.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Usually, you won’t need to pay more than a few dollars, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair with you. That way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. But it’s a bit different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts every night, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every evening restoring an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these situations. Those measures could include the following:
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this strategy, the exact decibel level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
- Speak with us today: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to identify and note any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of individualized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the protection. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will probably want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you might end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.