Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events go back to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
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. 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 don’t worry. If you use reliable ear protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be fairly distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious damage:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is happening. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. Excessive volume can lead to a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another indication that damage has taken place.
This list is not complete, of course. There are little hairs inside of 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, they will never heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also could be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Damage will take place anytime you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you notice 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 begin to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various degrees of effectiveness:
- You can get out of the venue: Honestly, this is probably your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it may also put an end to your fun. So if your symptoms are significant, think about getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the goal is to safeguard your ears. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, make sure you’re not standing near the stage or a giant speaker! Essentially, move further away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still having fun, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
Are there any other strategies that are more effective?
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 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 situations. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then warn you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. Monitor 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 damage your ears.
- Talk to us today: You need to know where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and record damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of individualized tips for you, all designed to protect your ears.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
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 wonderful outdoor summer events. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. Identifying 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 may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.