Some activities are simply staples of summertime: 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). 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 had 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 continue to expose your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do additional irreversible damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the proper ear protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing long-term damage to your ears.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying yourself at an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because you’ll be pretty distracted, naturally.
Well, if you want to stop severe damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has taken place.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. You shouldn’t necessarily neglect tinnitus simply because it’s a fairly common condition.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. This is definitely true when you’re trying to gauge injury to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by overly loud volume. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a less noisy setting.
Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these delicate hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. That’s how delicate 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 have to look out for secondary signs.
It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms at all. Damage will occur whenever you’re exposed to overly loud noise. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you notice symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. 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’ve got a few options, and they vary with regards to how effective they’ll be:
- 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 excuse not to keep a set with you. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you just pull them out and pop them in.
- Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If you notice any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. Put simply, try moving 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.
- 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.
- You can go somewhere quieter: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it’s also the least fun solution. So if your symptoms are serious, consider getting out of there, 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. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. Although it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
Are there any other strategies that are more reliable?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s a little different.
You will want to use a bit more advanced methods in these scenarios. Those measures could include the following:
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Keep an eye on your own portable volume 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.
- Professional or prescription level hearing protection is encouraged This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
- Speak with us today: We can perform a hearing test so that you’ll know where your hearing levels are right now. And it will be a lot easier to detect and record any damage after a baseline is established. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of personalized tips for you, all tailored to protect your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer activities. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices 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. If you’re not smart now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.