Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing.
And that can be a problem. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s caused your ears to ring. 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 wane.
But don’t worry. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing long-term damage to your ears.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because you’ll be fairly distracted, naturally.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious damage:
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t automatically ignore tinnitus simply because it’s a relatively common condition.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. Dizziness is another indication that damage has occurred, especially if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you could have damaged your ears.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that fragile.
And it isn’t like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. So looking out for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Damage will occur anytime you’re exposed to overly loud noise. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everyone notices and is immediately entertained by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- Try distancing yourself from the origin of the noise: If you detect any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. In other words, try moving away from the origin of the noise. Perhaps that means letting go of your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a necessary break.
- 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 have a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. That way, if things get a bit too loud, you can simply pop these puppies in.
- You can go someplace quieter: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it will also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are significant, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to protect your ears when things are loudest. 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 effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
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 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.
You will want to use a bit more sophisticated methods in these situations. Those measures could include the following:
- Use a volume monitoring app: 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. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
- Come in and see us: We can do a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be much easier to identify and record any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the 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
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices 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 keep doing that in the future. If you’re not sensible now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.