Some activities are just staples of summertime: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy watching cars go around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are growing as more of these events are getting back to normal.
But sometimes this can lead to problems. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will deteriorate.
But it’s ok. If you use effective ear protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, naturally.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another indication that damage has occurred, particularly if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you may have damaged your ears.
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a strong sign that something is wrong. This is certainly true when you’re attempting to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be caused 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 disregard tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
This list is not complete, of course. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the excessively loud decibel levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone 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? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have different levels of effectiveness:
- Find the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is important so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Try distancing yourself from the origin of the noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you’re not standing near the stage or a huge speaker! Put simply, try getting away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are too loud. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly takes you by surprise. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: 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 pair with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- You can go somewhere quieter: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible solution if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it may also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are significant, consider leaving, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the concert.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will do when you’re primarily concerned with safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. 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 a little different.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged 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 simply put them in.
- Speak with us today: You need to identify where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be much easier to detect and note any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- 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. Keep an eye on your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. Using this strategy, the precise volume level that will damage 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 fabulous outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these measures even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
Because if you really love going to see an airshow or a NASCAR race or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to continue doing that in the future. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.