Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars drive around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these activities are going back to normal.
But sometimes this can lead to issues. 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 the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will decline.
But it’s ok. If you use effective 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, obviously, you’ll be fairly distracted.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent severe damage:
- 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 sign that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is definitely true when you’re trying 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 setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these delicate 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 little hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no noticeable symptoms. Damage will happen 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 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 little dizzy. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various degrees of effectiveness:
- Bring cheap earplugs around with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to have a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever else. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- You can go someplace quieter: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it may also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the objective is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to limit the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you aren’t standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! Essentially, move further away from the origin 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 necessary break.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So when you need to safeguard 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 stadium or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s not the same.
You will want to use a bit more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when you need them.
- Speak with us today: You need to recognize where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and note any damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- 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. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. Using this method, the exact volume level that can damage your ears will be obvious.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer events. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. Identifying 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 an airshow or a NASCAR race or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to continue doing that in the future. If you’re not sensible now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.