Summer has some activities that are just staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy 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 events are getting back to normal.
And that can be an issue. 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 an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will decline.
But don’t worry. With the proper ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing lasting 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 air show or concert?
Because, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter environment.
- 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 generally controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another signal that damage has occurred, 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 may have damaged your ears.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can damage these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. That’s why you have to watch for secondary signs.
You also could be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will lead to damage. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
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 start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you have several solutions, and they vary in terms of how effective they’ll be:
- 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 begins to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Typically, you won’t need to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If your ears begin to hurt, make sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a giant speaker! Put simply, try getting away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still having fun, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- You can get out of the venue: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible solution if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it may also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the concert using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become severe.
- Use anything to cover your ears: When things get noisy, the objective is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have caught you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover and protect your ears. It won’t be the most effective way to limit the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly concerned with safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. 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.
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 decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. Using this method, the exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The degree of protection improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Speak with us today: You need to identify where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be much easier to detect and record any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all tailored to keep your ears safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy 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 measures even with headphones. Knowing 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 keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not smart now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.