Summertime has some activities that are simply staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy watching cars drive around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). As more of these activities return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can cause issues. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do further irreversible damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (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 yourself at an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe damage:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to remain balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has taken place, especially if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have damaged your ears.
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a good sign that something is wrong. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. Excessive volume can result in a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the extra loud volume levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it’s not like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect 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 result in 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 captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in the danger zone? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you’ve got several solutions, and they vary with regards to how helpful they’ll be:
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If you notice any pain in your ears, distance yourself from the speakers. In other words, try moving away from the origin of the noise. Perhaps that means letting go of your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a needed respite.
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to protect your ears when things are loudest. Try using something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. It won’t be the most effective way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues will 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 dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than no protection. So there’s no excuse not to keep a set with you. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop these puppies in.
- You can go somewhere less noisy: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it may also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the concert using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about leaving if your symptoms become severe.
Are there any other strategies that are more effective?
So when you need to protect 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 night repairing an old Corvette with loud power tools.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more significant steps to protect your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Use a volume monitoring app: Ambient noise is usually monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app for that. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. Using this method, the exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Speak with us today: We can perform a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be much easier to recognize and note any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these measures even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not smart now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.