Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
And that can be an issue. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. 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 decline.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is hurting
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:
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is happening. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a good indication that something is wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally controlled by your inner ear. 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 occurred.
This list isn’t complete, of course. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the extra loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing 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 watch for secondary signs.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no apparent symptoms. Damage will happen anytime you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is loving it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in the danger zone? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- You can leave the venue: Honestly, this is 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’d rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still consider leaving if your symptoms become severe.
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a big speaker! Essentially, 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.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable 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 need to pay more than a few bucks, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there isn’t any reason not to keep a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume starts to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to protect your ears when things are too loud. 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. It won’t be the most efficient way to control the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
Are there any other methods that are more effective?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But if you work in your garage daily 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 nightly, it’s a little different.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these situations. Those steps could include the following:
- Come in and see us: We can perform a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and record damage. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The level of protection increases with a better fit. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Ambient noise is usually monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. These apps will then notify you when the noise becomes dangerously high. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
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 will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Identifying how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions 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 in the future. If you’re not smart now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.