Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
And that can be an issue. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will decline.
But don’t worry. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.
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 rather distracted, naturally.
Well, if you want to avoid severe damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is largely controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another signal that damage has happened, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have damaged your ears.
- Headache: Generally, a headache is a strong indication that something is wrong. This is definitely true when you’re attempting to gauge damage to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can result in a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy 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 disregard it.
This list isn’t complete, of course. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can harm these hairs. And once an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So looking out for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no apparent symptoms. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to overly loud noise. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is digging 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 should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary with regards to how helpful they’ll be:
- Use anything to cover your ears: When things get loud, the objective is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have caught you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover up and protect your ears. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- 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 isn’t any reason not to keep a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever else. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- You can get out of the concert venue: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible solution 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 using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a giant speaker! In other words, try getting away from the source of the noise. Perhaps that means giving up your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a needed break.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But if you work in your garage daily fixing 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 advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Talk to us today: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be much easier to detect and record any damage after a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- 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 protection. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. Using this strategy, the exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with anything, even your headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better choices about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will probably want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.