Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the noise levels, are growing as more of these activities are going back to normal.
And that can be an issue. 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 continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further irreversible damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. If you use effective ear protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is hurting
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, naturally.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe damage:
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is certainly true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be caused by excessively loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should find a quieter setting.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is occurring. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has occurred, 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.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Well, you have several options, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- 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 volume levels have taken you by surprise, consider using anything around you to cover up and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most effective way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Bring cheap earplugs around with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to keep a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever. This way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop these puppies in.
- 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.
- You can go somewhere quieter: Honestly, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it may also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still consider leaving if your symptoms become severe.
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a giant speaker! Essentially, distance yourself from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will do when you’re mainly concerned with protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. 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 stadium or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s a little different.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these situations. Those measures could include the following:
- Speak with us today: We can do a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And it will be much easier to detect and note any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then notify you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. You need to take these measures even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you understand 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 able to hear your favorite band years from now.