Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities return to something like normal, the crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing.
And that can be an issue. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s caused your ears to ring. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will wane.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable ear protection, all of this summer fun 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.
Well, if you want to prevent significant damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a good sign that something isn’t right. This is certainly true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be caused by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter environment.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has taken place, especially if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have injured your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. You shouldn’t necessarily disregard tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises 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 little hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you need to look out for secondary signs.
You also could be developing hearing loss with no apparent symptoms. Damage will happen whenever you’re exposed to overly loud sound. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Well, you have several solutions, and they vary in terms of how effective they’ll be:
- 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. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- 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 isn’t any reason not to keep a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever. This way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop in these puppies.
- Try moving away from the source of the 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 moving away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you may have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to protect your ears when things are loudest. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover up and protect your ears. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- You can go someplace less noisy: If you really want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are serious, think about leaving, but we get it if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the concert.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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 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:
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. 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 just put them in.
- Speak with us today: We can do a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And it will be much easier to recognize and record any damage after a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: 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. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. Using this strategy, the exact volume level that can 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 have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. And that’s relevant with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you understand 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 capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.