Large summer concert crowd of people in front of a stage at night who should be concerned about hearing protection

Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger as more of these events are going back to normal.

And that can be an issue. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. 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 additional permanent damage to your hearing.

But it’s ok. If you use effective hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.

How to know your hearing is hurting

So, you’re at the air show or enjoying yourself at an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be fairly distracted, naturally.

Well, if you want to prevent severe damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:

  • Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t necessarily dismiss tinnitus simply because it’s a relatively common condition.
  • Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another indication that damage has taken place, particularly if it’s accompanied by a change in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have injured your ears.
  • Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably wrong. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter environment.

Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.

And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So looking out for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.

It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms whatsoever. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.

When you do detect 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 to ring. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you standing 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:

  • Find the merch booth: Some venues will 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 important so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
  • Use anything to block your ears: When things get loud, the goal 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 suddenly surprises you. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
  • Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
  • You can go someplace quieter: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is really your best option. But it will also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, consider leaving, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
  • Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a huge speaker! To put it bluntly, move further away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you may have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.

Are there more effective hearing protection methods?

So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily interested in protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But if you work in your garage daily 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 a lot, it’s a little different.

In these cases, you will want to take a few more serious steps to protect your hearing. Here are some steps in that direction:

  • Come in and see us: We can do a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be much easier to detect and note any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have a lot of individualized tips for you, all tailored to protect your ears.
  • Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Ambient noise is usually monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app that can do that. These apps will then warn you when the noise becomes dangerously high. Monitor your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
  • Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always bring these with you and put them in when you need them.

Have your cake and hear it, too

It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better choices 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 smart now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.

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References

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/decibel-levels

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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