Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events are going back to normal.
And that can be a problem. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do additional irreversible damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying yourself at an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is happening. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
- Headache: In general, a headache is a good indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a less noisy setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs inside of 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, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you have to look out for secondary symptoms.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms whatsoever. Damage will happen whenever you’re exposed to overly loud noise. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary in terms of how effective they’ll be:
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you aren’t standing next to the stage or a huge speaker! Essentially, distance yourself from the origin 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.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the goal is to safeguard your ears. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly surprises you. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Keep a set 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 reason not to keep a pair with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. 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!
- You can get out of the venue: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. So if your symptoms are severe, consider leaving, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly interested in safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But if you work in your garage every day 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 not the same.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Come in and see us: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and record damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our individualized 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 degree of protection increases with a better fit. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Ambient noise is usually 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 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 harm your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with everything, even your 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 probably want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.