Some activities are simply staples of summertime: 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 getting larger 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 loud concert that’s caused your ears to ring. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will diminish.
But it’s ok. If you use effective hearing protection, all of these summer activities 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 air show or concert?
Because you’ll be fairly distracted, naturally.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to prevent severe injury:
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a strong sign that something is wrong. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge injury to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should find a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is largely controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is occurring. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
This list isn’t exhaustive, obviously. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the extra loud decibel levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the tiny 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.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Damage will happen whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud sound. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. How loud is too loud and what should you do? Are you standing too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Here are a few options that have different degrees of effectiveness:
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. 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 relatively effective and are better than no protection. So there isn’t any reason not to have a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Put some distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a giant speaker! In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means letting go of your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a necessary break.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the aim is to safeguard your ears. Try using something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can leave the concert venue: Honestly, this is likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least enjoyable option. So if your symptoms are significant, consider getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
Are there better hearing protection strategies?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly concerned with protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. 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 a little different.
You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these situations. Those steps could include the following:
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Ambient noise is typically monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app for that. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. Keep an eye on 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 harm your ears.
- Speak with us today: You need to recognize where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and note any damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The level of protection increases with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you know how loud is too loud for headphones.
As the years go on, you will probably want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you might end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.