Some activities are simply 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 loud concert that’s caused your ears to ring. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. With the correct hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing long-term damage to your ears.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe injury:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. 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 indication that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is happening. You shouldn’t necessarily ignore tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a strong sign that something isn’t right. This is definitely true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
This list isn’t complete, of course. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can harm these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. 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 watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Damage will happen anytime you’re exposed to overly loud sound. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. 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 when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- Bring cheap earplugs around with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than no protection. So there isn’t any reason not to have a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Use anything to block your ears: When things get noisy, the objective is to protect your ears. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly takes you by surprise. It won’t be the most efficient way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- You can get out of the concert venue: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is really your best solution. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are serious, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather find a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Your hearing health is important so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, make sure you’re not standing near the stage or a giant speaker! Put simply, try moving away from the source of the noise. Perhaps that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a needed break.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But it’s a bit different when you’re a music-lover, and you attend concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every evening repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more profound steps to protect your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app that can do that. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. Using this strategy, the exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
- Talk to us today: We can perform 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 detect and record damage. You will also get the extra advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- 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. You can always bring these with you and put them in when you need them.
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 measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
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 continue doing that as the years go on. If you’re not sensible now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.