Summer has some activities that are just staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events return to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
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. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will wane.
But don’t worry. With the correct ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to prevent serious injury:
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. And that’s a good indication that you should find a quieter environment.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is happening. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has occurred.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud sounds can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these delicate 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 people say. That’s why you need to watch for secondary signs.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms whatsoever. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few options, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- 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 somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a big speaker! In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the objective is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have caught you by surprise, consider using anything around you to cover and protect your ears. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can go somewhere less noisy: Truthfully, this is probably your best possible solution if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it will also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the concert using a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become extreme.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few dollars, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
Are there more effective hearing protection strategies?
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 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 situations, you will want to take a few more serious steps to safeguard your hearing. Those steps could include the following:
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: 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 high. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This may include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when you need them.
- Speak with us today: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and note any damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of personalized tips for you, all designed to protect your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple steps. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Knowing 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 a NASCAR race or an airshow 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.