Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these activities are going back to normal.
But sometimes this can bring about problems. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be an indication 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. With the proper ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.
How can you tell 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 you’ll be pretty distracted, understandably.
Well, if you want to avoid severe injury, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another indication that damage has taken place.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. You shouldn’t automatically disregard tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is definitely true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are little hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can harm these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And it’s not like people say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you need to watch for secondary signs.
It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud noise will lead to damage. 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 everyone is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have different levels of effectiveness:
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you detect any ear pain, distance yourself from the speakers. To put it bluntly, distance yourself from the origin of the noise. Perhaps that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a necessary respite.
- You can get out of the venue: Honestly, this is likely your best possible solution if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it will also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are significant, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Use anything to cover your ears: When things get noisy, the objective is to protect 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 up and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to limit the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re moderately effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop in these puppies.
Are there more effective hearing protection strategies?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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 a little different.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Speak with us today: We can do a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and record damage. You will also get the extra advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app that can do that. These apps will then alert you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. In order to safeguard 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 damage your ears.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This could 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.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices when you recognize how loud is too loud for headphones.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.