Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy watching cars go 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.
But sometimes this can cause issues. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will diminish.
But don’t worry. 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, understandably, you’ll be fairly distracted.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t automatically dismiss tinnitus simply because it’s a relatively common condition.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should seek a quieter environment.
Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively 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. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you have to watch for secondary symptoms.
You also could be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various levels of effectiveness:
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Usually, you won’t need to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- You can go someplace less noisy: Truthfully, this is likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about leaving if your symptoms become extreme.
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever. This way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Use anything to block your ears: When things get loud, the objective is to protect your ears. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. It won’t be the most efficient way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If you detect any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Essentially, distance yourself from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly concerned with safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you attend concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every night restoring an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
You will want to use a bit more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Those measures could include the following:
- Talk to us today: We can do a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be much easier to detect 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 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 improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Use a volume monitoring app: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app for that. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. 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 have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with everything, even your headphones. Understanding 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. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.