Noisy Summer Activities Require Ear Protection

Large summer concert crowd of people in front of a stage at night who should be concerned about hearing protection

Some activities are just staples of summer: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars drive around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the noise levels, are growing as more of these events 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. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will deteriorate.

But it’s ok. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.

How to know your hearing is hurting

So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.

Well, if you want to prevent severe injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another indication that damage has taken place.
  • Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
  • Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. This is definitely true when you’re attempting to gauge damage to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.

Obviously, this list isn’t complete. There are little hairs inside of 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 delicate hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.

And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear people say. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.

It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud sound will produce damage. And the damage will get worse the longer the exposure continues.

What should you do when you notice symptoms?

You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody sees and is instantly entertained by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)

Here are some options that have different degrees of effectiveness:

  • 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 relatively effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • Try distancing yourself from the origin of the noise: If you notice any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. Put simply, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Perhaps that means giving up your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a needed break.
  • You can get out of the concert venue: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible solution if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it’s also the least enjoyable solution. So if your symptoms are serious, think about getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
  • Use anything to cover your ears: When things get loud, the goal is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover up and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to limit the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
  • Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Your hearing health is important so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.

Are there any other methods that are more reliable?

So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every night restoring an old Corvette with noisy power tools.

You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Here are some steps in that direction:

  • Professional or prescription level hearing protection is recommended This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The degree of protection increases with a better fit. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can just put them in.
  • Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Ambient noise is typically monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app for that. These apps will then alert you when the noise becomes dangerously high. Keep an eye on your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
  • Come in and for a consultation: We can do a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and record damage. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.

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 wonderful outdoor summer activities. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with anything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you recognize how loud is too loud for headphones.

Because if you really love going to see an airshow or a NASCAR race or an outdoor summer concert, chances are, you’re going to want to continue doing that in the future. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.

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References

https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html
https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/decibel-levels

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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