Summertime has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these activities are going back to normal.
But sometimes this can cause problems. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will wane.
But it’s ok. If you use effective ear protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is occurring. You shouldn’t necessarily dismiss tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has happened, especially if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you may have injured your ears.
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be caused by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should seek a quieter environment.
This list isn’t complete, of course. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So looking out for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to overly loud noise. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
When you do detect symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everyone 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 bit dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few options, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If you experience any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. In other words, try getting away from the source of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a needed respite.
- You can get out of the venue: Honestly, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it will also put an end to your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: 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 set with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Block 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 decibel levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover and protect your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s not the same.
You will want to use a bit more sophisticated methods in these situations. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The degree of protection improves with a better fit. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
- Talk to us today: We can perform a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be a lot easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can have fun at all those great summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. Identifying 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 sensible now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band decades from now.