Summer has some activities that are simply 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.
And that can be a problem. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. 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 further irreversible damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.
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 you’ll be pretty distracted, understandably.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious damage:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another signal that damage has occurred, especially if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you could have injured your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is happening. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a less noisy setting.
This list isn’t exhaustive, of course. 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. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. That’s why you have to watch for secondary symptoms.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms whatsoever. Any exposure to loud sound will produce damage. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everybody sees and is instantly captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got several solutions, and they vary in terms of how effective they’ll be:
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find 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.
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, make sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! In other words, try getting away from the source of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a necessary break.
- You can leave the concert venue: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is honestly your best option. But it will also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still consider getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re moderately effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. This way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop in these puppies.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the aim is to safeguard your ears. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly surprises you. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily concerned about safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But if you work in your garage every day restoring your old Chevelle with power tools, or if you have season tickets to your favorite football stadium or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s a little different.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more significant steps to protect your hearing. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This could include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Talk to us today: We can do a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and note any damage. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then warn you when the noise becomes dangerously high. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer activities. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with anything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions 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.