Summertime 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). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these events are going back to normal.
And that can be an issue. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first loud concert that’s left you with ringing ears. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will decline.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How can you tell if your hearing is taking a beating?
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, understandably.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent severe injury:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has taken place, particularly if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you may have damaged your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Headache: In general, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be caused by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you have to look out for secondary signs.
It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms at all. Damage will happen whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud sound. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in the danger zone? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- You can go somewhere less noisy: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is really your best option. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. 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 think about getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there isn’t any reason not to keep a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is important so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are too loud. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. 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 your ears start hurting, be sure you aren’t standing next to 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 enjoy the show and give your ears a needed break.
Are there any other methods that are more effective?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly concerned with protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. 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 repairing an old Corvette with loud power tools.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more profound steps to protect your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
- Talk to us today: You need to identify where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be much easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the added advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The level of protection improves with a better fit. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. 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 a NASCAR race or an airshow or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to continue doing that as the years go on. If you’re not sensible now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.