Some activities are simply staples of summer: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars go around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events are getting back to normal.
But sometimes this can cause issues. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will diminish.
But don’t worry. With the proper ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing permanent 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 air show or concert?
Because, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.
Well, if you want to stop severe injury, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally 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.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is definitely true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
This list isn’t complete, of course. Loud noise leads to hearing loss because the excessively loud decibel levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for detecting vibrations in the air. And once these tiny hairs are damaged, they never heal or grow back. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And it’s not like you’ve ever heard anyone say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you have to watch for secondary signs.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no detectable symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you experience 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 little dizzy. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in a dangerous spot? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- You can leave the concert venue: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it may also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still consider leaving if your symptoms become extreme.
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re moderately 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 bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you notice any ear pain, distance yourself from the speakers. To put it bluntly, move further away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you may have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Use anything to block your ears: When things get loud, the goal is to safeguard your ears. Try using something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly surprises you. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
Are there more effective hearing protection strategies?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time period 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.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more significant steps to protect your hearing. Those steps could include the following:
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This could include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the protection. When need arises, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
- Come in and for a consultation: We can perform a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and record damage. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Keep an eye on your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer events. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant 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 most likely want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being smart now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band years from now.
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.