Some activities are just staples of summer: 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 noise levels, are growing as more of these activities are getting back to normal.
And that can be an issue. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first loud concert that’s caused your ears to ring. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, 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 to know your hearing is suffering
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that air show or concert?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, understandably.
Well, if you want to stop significant injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to remain balanced. Dizziness is another indication that damage has occurred, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you may have injured your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
Obviously, this list isn’t complete. There are little hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can harm these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. So watching for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms whatsoever. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to overly loud sound. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everybody notices and is immediately 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 many decibels is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Well, you have a few options, and they vary in terms of how effective they’ll be:
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are too loud. 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 up and protect your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair with you. That way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- You can leave the venue: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it may also put an end to your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show using a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become significant.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. 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.
- Try moving away from the source of the noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you’re not standing near the stage or a big speaker! In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a necessary respite.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
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 not the same.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these scenarios. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Talk to 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 recognize and note any damage after a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our individualized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is typically monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. These apps will then notify 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 capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to damage 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 level of protection increases with a better fit. You can always take these with you and put them in when the need arises.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s relevant with anything, 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 keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.