Safeguard Your Hearing During Loud Summer Activities

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 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 return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.

But sometimes this can bring about issues. 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 a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will wane.

But don’t worry. If you use reliable ear 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 yourself at an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, obviously, you’ll be pretty distracted.

You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious injury:

  • Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. 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 injured your ears.
  • 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 pertinent. Too many decibels can result in a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a less noisy setting.
  • Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is happening. You shouldn’t necessarily dismiss tinnitus just because it’s a relatively common condition.

This list isn’t complete, obviously. There are little hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud sounds can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.

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

You also may be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Damage will take place whenever you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.

When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?

You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody notices and is immediately entertained by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears begin to ring, and you feel a bit dizzy. 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?

Here are some options that have various degrees of effectiveness:

  • Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a big speaker! Put simply, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means letting go of your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a needed break.
  • You can leave the concert venue: If you really want to protect your ears, this is really your best solution. But it will also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are serious, consider getting out of there, but we get it 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. 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 little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Usually, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
  • Use anything to block your ears: When things get loud, the objective is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover and protect your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to control the sound, but it will be better than no protection.

Are there any other strategies that are more effective?

So, disposable earplugs will do when you’re mostly interested in safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. 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 repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.

In these situations, you will want to take a few more profound steps to protect your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:

  • Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
  • Use a volume monitoring app: Ambient noise is usually 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 high. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. Using this strategy, the precise volume level that can damage your ears will be obvious.
  • Come in and see us: You need to recognize 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 detect and note any damage. You will also get the extra advantage of our individualized advice to help you keep your ears safe.

Have your cake and hear it, too

Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can have fun at all those great summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.

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 as the years go on. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.

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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