Some activities are simply 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 decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these activities are getting back to normal.
But sometimes this can lead to issues. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be a sign that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use effective hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is hurting
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because, obviously, you’ll be fairly distracted.
Well, if you want to prevent significant damage, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is largely responsible for your ability to remain balanced. Dizziness is another signal that damage has happened, 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.
- Headache: In general, a headache is a good sign that something is wrong. This is definitely true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Too many decibels can trigger a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter environment.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. You shouldn’t necessarily disregard tinnitus just because it’s a fairly common condition.
Needless to say, this list isn’t complete. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the extra loud decibel levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these delicate hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how delicate and specialized they are.
And it’s not like people say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching 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 detectable symptoms. Damage will take place anytime you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is loving it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If you detect any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. Essentially, move further away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a break while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Use anything to block your ears: When things get noisy, the objective is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover up and protect your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
- You can go someplace less noisy: Truthfully, this is most likely your best possible option if you’re looking to protect your hearing health. But it will also put an end to 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 protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: 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 reason not to keep a pair with you. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop in these puppies.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Your hearing health is important so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mainly concerned about safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But if you work in your garage every day 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 a little different.
You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Those measures could include the following:
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The degree of protection increases with a better fit. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Come in and see us: We can perform a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to observe and note any damage. You will also get the added benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be capable of easily seeing what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It may be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s relevant with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you know how loud is too loud for headphones.
Because if you really love going to see a NASCAR race or an airshow 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.