Protect Your Hearing During Noisy 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 summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events go back to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.

But sometimes this can cause issues. Let’s face it: you’ve had ringing in your ears after attending a concert before. That ringing is something called tinnitus, and it could be a sign of something bad: hearing damage. And as you continue to expose your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do further irreversible damage to your hearing.

But it’s ok. If you use reliable ear protection, all of these summer activities 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, naturally.

Well, if you want to avoid severe damage, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Headache: Generally speaking, a headache is a strong indication that something isn’t right. And when you’re attempting to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Too many decibels can lead to a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this scenario, seek a less noisy setting.
  • Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It means your ears are sustaining damage. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
  • Dizziness: Your sense of balance is primarily controlled by your inner ear. Dizziness is another indication that damage has taken place, especially 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.

This list isn’t complete, of course. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels harm the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for detecting vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that delicate.

And the phrase “ow, my tiny ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. That’s why you have to watch for secondary symptoms.

It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud sound will produce damage. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.

When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?

You’re getting your best groove on (and everybody is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in a dangerous spot? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?

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

  • Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If your ears start hurting, make sure you aren’t standing near the stage or a huge speaker! To put it bluntly, 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 loud, the aim is to safeguard your ears. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the decibel levels have caught you by surprise, think about using anything around you to cover up and safeguard your ears. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
  • Check the merch booth: Some venues sell disposable earplugs. So if you don’t have anything else, it’s worth checking out the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is essential so the few bucks you pay will be well worth it.
  • Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. For what they are, they’re moderately effective and are better than nothing. So there’s no reason not to have a pair in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever. Now, if the volume begins to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • You can go someplace quieter: If you actually want to safeguard your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it’s also the least fun option. It would be understandable if you would rather stay and enjoy the show utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still consider getting out if your symptoms become severe.

Are there better hearing protection strategies?

So, disposable earplugs will do when you’re primarily interested in safeguarding 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 nightly, it’s not the same.

You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these scenarios. Here are some steps in that direction:

  • Get an app that monitors volume levels: Ambient noise is typically monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app for that. 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 able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to damage your ears.
  • Come in and for a consultation: You need to recognize where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be much easier to recognize and note any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
  • Use professional or prescription level hearing protection. This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The level of protection increases with a better fit. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.

Have your cake and hear it, too

Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can safeguard your hearing and enjoy all these wonderful outdoor summer activities. 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 choices when you recognize 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 keep doing that in the future. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band years 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.