Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
And that can be a problem. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable hearing 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 fairly distracted, naturally.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious injury:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing 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: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. This is definitely true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to stay balanced. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has happened.
This list isn’t exhaustive, obviously. There are little hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can harm these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms at all. Damage will take place anytime you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. The longer you’re exposed, the more severe the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody notices and is immediately captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Here are a few options that have various levels of effectiveness:
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Your hearing health is essential so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Use anything to block your ears: 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 surprises you. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you experience any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. Essentially, move further away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still enjoying yourself, but you may have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Bring cheap earplugs around 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 isn’t any reason not to have a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume starts to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- You can get out of the concert venue: If you really want to safeguard your ears, this is really your best solution. But it’s also the least enjoyable option. So if your symptoms are serious, consider getting out of there, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s a little different.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more profound steps to safeguard your hearing. Those steps could include the following:
- Come in and see us: You need to identify where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to detect and note any damage after a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then notify you when the noise becomes dangerously high. Monitor 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 harm your ears.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This could include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The degree of protection increases with a better fit. 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 protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. You need to take these measures even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you understand how loud is too loud for headphones.
Because if you really love going to see an airshow or a NASCAR race or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to keep doing that as the years go on. If you’re not smart now you might end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.