Some activities are simply staples of summertime: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars go around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). As more of these activities return to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
And that can be an issue. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further irreversible damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because, understandably, you’ll be pretty distracted.
Well, if you want to prevent significant injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to stay balanced. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And it’s not like people say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to overly loud sound. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everyone sees and is immediately entertained by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary with regards to how effective they’ll be:
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the aim is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover and protect your ears. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can get out of the concert venue: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it’s also the least enjoyable 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 show.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few dollars, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- Try distancing yourself from the origin of the noise: If you detect any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Essentially, distance yourself from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you may have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no excuse not to keep a set with you. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop in these puppies.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly interested in safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you attend concerts every night, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every evening restoring an old Corvette with loud power tools.
You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Those measures could include the following:
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always take these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Talk to us today: We can perform a hearing test so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and note any damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of personalized tips for you, all tailored to protect your ears.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting 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 have fun at all those great summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will probably want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being smart now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band years from now.