Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can bring about problems. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed 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 keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the correct ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing long-term damage to your ears.
How can you tell 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 fairly distracted.
Well, if you want to avoid severe injury, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be caused by overly loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. So if you feel 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’s a sign that damage is occurring. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
This list is not exhaustive, of course. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the excessively loud decibel levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for detecting vibrations in the air. And once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. That’s why you need to look out for secondary signs.
You also could be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.
When you do detect symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everybody notices and is instantly captivated 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? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various levels of effectiveness:
- You can get out of the venue: Honestly, this is most likely your best possible solution if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it will also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the concert using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still consider getting out if your symptoms become significant.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than no protection. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a little too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Block 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 caught you by surprise, think about using anything around you to cover up and protect your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If you experience any ear pain, distance yourself from the speakers. In other words, try getting away from the source of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a necessary break.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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 a lot, it’s not the same.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more serious steps to protect your hearing. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use a volume monitoring app: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app that can do that. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. Monitor your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
- Talk to us today: You need to know where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these steps even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you recognize 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 continue doing that in the future. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.