Summertime 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 growing.
And that can be a problem. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will diminish.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable ear protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, understandably.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is occurring. You shouldn’t automatically dismiss tinnitus just because it’s a relatively common condition.
- Headache: In general, a headache is a good sign that something isn’t right. This is definitely true when you’re trying to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can result in a pounding headache. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter environment.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally controlled by your inner ear. 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 happened.
This list is not complete, of course. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And once an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you need to look out for secondary symptoms.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you standing too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs 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’s no reason not to keep a pair with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the aim is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have caught you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover and safeguard your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can leave the concert venue: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible solution if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least fun solution. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the concert using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become severe.
- Put some distance between you and the source of noise: If you notice any pain in your ears, distance yourself from the speakers. Put simply, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Perhaps that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a needed respite.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
Are there better hearing protection strategies?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily concerned with safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But it’s a bit different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every night repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Those steps could include the following:
- Talk to us today: You need to know where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and note any damage. You will also get the extra advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Use professional or prescription level ear protection. This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The degree of protection increases with a better fit. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. 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 exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer events. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these measures even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better choices about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not smart now you might end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.