Summer has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these activities go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can cause 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 an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional irreversible damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use effective hearing protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, understandably.
Well, if you want to prevent significant damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. You shouldn’t automatically neglect tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Excessive volume can trigger a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
- 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 change in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you may have damaged your ears.
This list isn’t complete, obviously. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. 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 it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. So looking out for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms whatsoever. 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 immediately captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. 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?
Well, you’ve got several options, and they vary with regards to how helpful they’ll be:
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Usually, you won’t need to pay more than a few dollars, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a deal!
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a huge speaker! To put it bluntly, distance yourself from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still having fun, but you might have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- You can go someplace quieter: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is really your best option. But it may also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, think about getting out of there, but we understand if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the show.
- 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 nothing. So there’s no reason not to have a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever. That way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are loudest. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly takes you by surprise. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
Are there any other methods that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly concerned with 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 a lot, it’s not the same.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these scenarios. Those steps could include the following:
- Come in and see us: You need to identify where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and note any damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- 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 let you know. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. Using this method, the precise volume level that can damage your ears will be obvious.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point stands: you can enjoy all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these measures even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you understand how loud is too loud for headphones.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being sensible now means you’ll be able to hear your favorite band years from now.