Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can lead to problems. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do further permanent damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the correct ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing permanent damage to your ears.
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 air show or concert?
Because, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to prevent severe damage:
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong sign that something isn’t right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a quieter setting.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t necessarily neglect tinnitus simply because it’s a relatively common condition.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. Dizziness is another indication that damage has happened, 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.
This list isn’t complete, of course. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. That’s why you need to watch for secondary signs.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any apparent symptoms. Damage will occur whenever you’re exposed to overly loud sound. The longer you’re exposed, the more severe the damage will become.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everyone notices and is instantly captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various degrees of effectiveness:
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the objective is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover and protect your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- You can go somewhere less noisy: If you really want to safeguard your ears, this is truthfully your best solution. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. So if your symptoms are serious, think about getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: 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 have a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. This way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop in these puppies.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Usually, you won’t need to pay more than a few dollars, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you aren’t standing next to the stage or a huge speaker! Essentially, move further away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still having fun, but you may have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
Are there better hearing protection strategies?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly concerned with safeguarding 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s a little different.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then alert you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this method, the precise decibel level that can damage your ears will be obvious.
- Speak with us today: You need to know where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and note any damage. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all tailored to protect your ears.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. 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.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer activities. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Identifying 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. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.