Summer has some activities that are just staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars drive around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). As more of these events return to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
And that can be a problem. Let’s face it: you’ve had 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 the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will wane.
But it’s ok. With the proper ear 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 incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be fairly distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe injury:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another sign that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is happening. You shouldn’t automatically ignore tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be caused by excessively loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter setting.
This list isn’t exhaustive, of course. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can harm these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. That’s why you have to watch for secondary symptoms.
It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms whatsoever. Any exposure to loud sound will produce damage. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everyone sees and is immediately entertained by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Here are a few options that have different degrees of effectiveness:
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the goal is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have caught you by surprise, consider using anything around you to cover and protect your ears. Even though it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you experience any ear pain, back away from the speakers. In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- You can leave the venue: If you really want to safeguard your ears, this is truthfully your best solution. But it will also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a little too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But if you work in your garage daily fixing your old Chevelle with power tools, or if you have season tickets to your favorite football team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s not the same.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these situations. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Use professional or prescription level hearing protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Speak with us today: You need to recognize where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and record damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. These apps will then notify you when the noise becomes dangerously high. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can have fun at all those great summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better choices about your hearing health.
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 continue doing that as the years go on. Being sensible now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band decades from now.