Some activities are just staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these activities are going back to normal.
But sometimes this can bring about problems. 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 a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will decline.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable ear protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
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 you’ll be fairly distracted, naturally.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious injury:
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. This is definitely true when you’re attempting to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a quieter setting.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally 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 indication that damage has taken place.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. 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 these tiny hairs are destroyed, they never heal or grow back. They’re that specialized and that delicate.
And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you need to watch for secondary signs.
You also may be developing hearing loss without any apparent symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody notices and is instantly captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various levels of effectiveness:
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you notice any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Put simply, try moving away from the source of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a necessary respite.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- You can get out of the venue: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. 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 consider leaving if your symptoms become severe.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is important so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are too loud. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover up and protect your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
Are there better hearing protection strategies?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily concerned about safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every evening repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use 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. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this method, the exact decibel level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
- Speak with us today: You need to recognize where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and record damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of individualized tips for you, all designed to protect 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 fabulous outdoor summer events. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you understand 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.