Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events 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. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. 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 air show or concert?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, naturally.
Well, if you want to stop severe injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: In general, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be caused by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to stay balanced. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect it.
This list is not exhaustive, of course. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. So watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will result in damage. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everyone sees and is instantly captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are a few options that have different degrees of effectiveness:
- Use anything to block your ears: The goal is to protect 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 and protect your ears. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can get out of the concert venue: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are severe, think about getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Try moving away from the source of the noise: If you detect any pain in your ears, distance yourself from the speakers. To put it bluntly, distance yourself from the origin 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.
- Bring cheap earplugs around with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no excuse not to keep a pair with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few dollars, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. 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 stadium or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s not the same.
In these cases, you will want to take a few more serious steps to protect your hearing. Those measures could include the following:
- Speak with us today: You need to identify where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and record damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of personalized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will let you know. Keep an eye on 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 harm your ears.
- Use professional or prescription level ear protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The degree of protection increases with a better fit. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. 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.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not smart now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.