Summertime has some activities that are simply staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events return to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can lead to problems. 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 the more damage you experience, the more your hearing will diminish.
But don’t worry. If you use effective hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
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 rather distracted, understandably.
Well, if you want to avoid severe damage, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is primarily responsible for your ability to keep yourself balanced. 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 happened.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is occurring. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. A pounding headache can be caused by excessively loud volume. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
This list isn’t complete, of course. 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 once an injury to these delicate 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 watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to happen with no symptoms whatsoever. Damage will happen anytime you’re exposed to excessively loud noise. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
What should you do when you detect symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is digging it), but then, you begin to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. 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 some options that have different degrees of effectiveness:
- You can go somewhere less noisy: If you really want to protect your ears, this is really your best solution. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are severe, think about leaving, but we understand if you’d rather find a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
- Block your ears with, well, anything: The goal is to safeguard your ears when things are loudest. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have caught you by surprise, think about using anything you can find to cover up and safeguard your ears. It won’t be the most efficient way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Try moving away from the origin of the noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a huge speaker! Put simply, try getting away from the source of the noise. Perhaps 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 necessary break.
- Find the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. Check out the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Your hearing health is important so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
- Bring cheap earplugs wherever you go: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to keep a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever else. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can just pop in these puppies.
Are there better hearing protection methods?
So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re mostly concerned about protecting your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But if you work in your garage every day fixing your old Chevelle with power tools, or if you have season tickets to your favorite football stadium or NASCAR, or you go to concerts a lot, it’s not the same.
You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these situations. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use professional or prescription level ear protection. This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
- Talk to us today: You need to know where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And once you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and record damage. Plus, we’ll have a lot of personalized tips for you, all designed to keep your ears safe.
- Get an app that monitors volume levels: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to safeguard your ears, keep an eye on your decibel monitor on your phone. Using this strategy, the exact volume level that will harm your ears will be obvious.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can protect your hearing and enjoy all these fabulous outdoor summer events. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. And that’s relevant with anything, even your 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 in the future. If you’re not smart now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.