Some activities are just staples of summertime: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the noise levels, are growing as more of these events are going back to normal.
But sometimes this can bring about issues. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. If you use reliable ear protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How can you tell if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying yourself at an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, understandably.
Well, if you want to avoid significant damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is largely 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 sign that damage has occurred.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. You shouldn’t automatically neglect tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
This list isn’t complete, of course. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can damage these hairs. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my little 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 could be developing hearing loss without any detectable symptoms. Damage will occur whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud sound. The longer that exposure continues, the more significant the damage will become.
When you do detect symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in the danger zone? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have different levels of effectiveness:
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re relatively effective and are better than no protection. So there’s no reason not to have a pair in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- You can go somewhere quieter: If you really want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it will also put an end to your fun. So if your symptoms are significant, think about getting out of there, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get noisy, the goal is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have caught you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to limit the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If you experience any pain in your ears, distance yourself from the speakers. In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
Are there any other strategies that are more effective?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these situations. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- 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 let you know. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
- Come in and see us: You need to recognize where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and record damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of individualized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
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 wonderful outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s relevant with everything, even your headphones. Identifying how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
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. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years from now.