Summer has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events are getting back to normal.
But sometimes this can lead to problems. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. 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 decline.
But don’t worry. If you use effective ear protection, all of these summer activities 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 concert or air show?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.
Well, if you want to avoid severe injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a good sign that something is wrong. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has happened, particularly if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have injured your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is happening. You shouldn’t necessarily disregard tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
This list is not complete, obviously. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. That’s why you need to look out for secondary signs.
You also could be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Damage will occur anytime you’re exposed to overly loud sound. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe 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? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is important so the few dollars 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 giant speaker! Essentially, distance yourself from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still having fun, but you may have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- You can go someplace less noisy: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it’s also the least enjoyable option. So if your symptoms are serious, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Use anything to block your ears: The goal is to protect your ears when things are loudest. 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 reduce the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- 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 excuse not to keep a pair with you. This way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop in these puppies.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily interested in protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But if you work in your garage daily 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 nightly, it’s not the same.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more profound steps to safeguard your hearing. Those steps could include the following:
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this strategy, the precise decibel level that can harm your ears will be obvious.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended 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. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
- Come in and see us: You need to recognize where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to identify and record any damage once a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have a lot of personalized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices when you recognize how loud is too loud for headphones.
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.
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