Some activities are simply staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the noise levels, are growing as more of these activities are going back to normal.
And that can be an issue. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first loud concert that’s left you with ringing ears. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do additional irreversible damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. With the proper hearing 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, you’re at the air show or enjoying an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious damage:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is taking place. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a good indication that something isn’t right. This is certainly true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can result in a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you feel 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.
This list isn’t complete, of course. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the extra loud decibel levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for detecting vibrations in the air. And once an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. So looking out for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. 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?
Here are a few options that have different degrees of effectiveness:
- Bring cheap earplugs around 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 excuse not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- You can go somewhere less noisy: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is really your best solution. But it will also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about leaving if your symptoms become extreme.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Go to 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!
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to protect your ears when things are too loud. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly takes you by surprise. It won’t be the most efficient way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you aren’t standing next to the stage or a big speaker! To put it bluntly, distance yourself from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly concerned about safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But if you work in your garage every day fixing 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 not the same.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more significant steps to safeguard your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then alert you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
- Talk to us today: We can do a hearing test so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and note any damage. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all tailored to protect your ears.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This could include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. 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.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can enjoy all those great summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. You need to take these measures 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 enjoy 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 as the years go on. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.