Summer has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events return to something like normal, the crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can lead to problems. Let’s face it: you’ve had 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 keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use effective hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is suffering
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.
Well, if you want to prevent severe damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to remain 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 sign that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is occurring. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter setting.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the extra loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for detecting vibrations in the air. And once an injury to these fragile 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 have to watch for secondary symptoms.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. And the damage will get worse 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. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few options, and they vary in terms of how helpful they’ll be:
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to protect your ears when things are too loud. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly takes you by surprise. Although 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 begin to hurt, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! In other words, try moving away from the source of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a needed break.
- You can get out of the venue: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it’s also the least fun solution. So if your symptoms are severe, consider leaving, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Bring cheap earplugs around with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there isn’t any reason not to have a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop these puppies in.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few dollars, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
Are there any other methods that are more effective?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. But it’s a bit different when you’re a music-lover, and you attend concerts every night, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every night restoring an old Corvette with loud power tools.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more serious steps to safeguard your hearing. Those measures could include the following:
- Talk to us today: We can do a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be much easier to detect and note any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all tailored to keep your ears safe.
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then alert you when the noise becomes dangerously high. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. Using this method, the precise volume level that can damage your ears will be obvious.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer activities. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these steps even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you recognize how loud is too loud for headphones.
As the years go on, you will probably want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being sensible now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band decades from now.