Some activities are just staples of summertime: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy watching cars drive around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the noise levels, are growing as more of these events are getting back to normal.
But sometimes this can lead to issues. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will wane.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of these summer activities can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is suffering
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that air show or concert?
Because, obviously, you’ll be fairly distracted.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe injury:
- Headache: Generally, 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. 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’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a rush of volume, this is another indication that damage has taken place.
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
This list isn’t exhaustive, obviously. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and overly loud noises can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to take place with no symptoms whatsoever. Any exposure to loud sound will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
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 loud is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)
Well, you have several options, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- Put some distance between you and the origin of noise: If you notice any pain in your ears, back away from the speakers. In other words, try getting away from the source of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still having fun, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Use anything to cover your ears: When things get noisy, the aim is to protect your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have taken you by surprise, think about using anything around you to cover up and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than no protection. So there isn’t any reason not to keep a set in your glove box, purse, or wherever. This way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- 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 will also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to protect your hearing. But you should still consider getting out if your symptoms become significant.
Are there more effective hearing protection methods?
So when you need to safeguard your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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 team or NASCAR, or you go to concerts nightly, it’s a little different.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more serious steps to safeguard your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Get an app that monitors decibel levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will let you know. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
- Talk to us today: We can do 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 notice and note any damage. You will also get the added benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Use professional or prescription level hearing protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
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 protecting your hearing. You will enjoy those activities safely by taking a few simple measures. And that’s true with everything, even your headphones. You will be able to make better hearing decisions when you know how loud is too loud for headphones.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you may end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.