Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these events are getting back to normal.
And that can be a problem. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first loud concert that’s caused your ears to ring. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will decline.
But it’s ok. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing permanent damage to your ears.
How can you know 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, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.
Well, if you want to prevent severe injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: In general, a headache is a good sign that something isn’t right. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should seek a quieter environment.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another sign that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is occurring. You shouldn’t necessarily ignore tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud sounds can damage 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 you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. So looking out for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any apparent symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will lead to damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Well, you have several options, and they vary in terms of how helpful they’ll be:
- Find 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 dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you notice any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Essentially, move further away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to protect your ears when things are too loud. Try using something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly takes you by surprise. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair with you. This way, if things get a bit too loud, you can simply pop in these puppies.
- You can leave the venue: If you really want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best solution. But it may also put an end to your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, think about leaving, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s a little different.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these situations. Those measures could include the following:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is typically 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 high. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. Using this method, the exact volume level that will damage your ears will be obvious.
- Come in and for a consultation: You need to identify where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and record damage. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always take 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 protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer events. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with anything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices when you recognize how loud is too loud for headphones.
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 keep doing that in the future. Being smart now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band years from now.