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

Some activities are simply staples of summertime: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars go around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events are getting back to normal.

And that can be an issue. 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 these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.

How to know your hearing is hurting

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

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

  • Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be triggered by excessively loud volume. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a quieter setting.
  • Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has taken place.
  • Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect it.

Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.

And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the little hairs in my ear hurt”. That’s why you have to watch for secondary signs.

You also may be developing hearing loss without any apparent symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.

What should you do when you detect symptoms?

You’re rocking out just awesomely (everybody sees and is instantly captivated 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 should you know how loud 100 decibels is?

Here are a few options that have different degrees of effectiveness:

  • Use anything to cover your ears: When things get loud, the aim is to protect your ears. Try using something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly takes you by surprise. It won’t be the most effective way to limit the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
  • 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 no protection. So there’s no reason not to have a set in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. Now, if the volume starts to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
  • You can go someplace quieter: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is really your best option. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are significant, consider getting out of there, but we understand if you’d rather find a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
  • Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If you experience any ear pain, distance yourself from the speakers. Put simply, try moving away from the source of the noise. Perhaps that means letting go of your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a necessary break.

Are there more effective hearing protection methods?

So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily concerned about 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 every night, 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 bit more advanced methods in these situations. Those steps could include the following:

  • Wear professional or prescription level hearing protection. This might 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.
  • Come in and for a consultation: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to identify and record any damage after a baseline is established. You will also get the added benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
  • Get an app that monitors volume levels: Ambient noise is normally monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also download an app that can do that. These apps will then warn you when the noise becomes dangerously loud. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this method, the exact volume level that will harm 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 protect your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer events. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. You need to take these measures even with headphones. You will be able to make better hearing choices when you understand 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 as the years go on. Being smart now means you’ll be able to hear 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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