Summer has some activities that are just staples: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. As more of these events return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
And that can be a problem. Let’s face it: you’ve noticed ringing in your ears after going to a concert before. This ringing, known as tinnitus, can be an indication that you’ve sustained hearing damage. And the more damage you do, the more your hearing will decline.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable ear 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 yourself at an incredible concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be pretty distracted.
You should watch out for the following symptoms if you want to avoid severe damage:
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It means your ears are taking damage. Tinnitus is pretty common, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
- Headache: In general, a headache is a good sign that something isn’t right. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. A pounding headache can be caused by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter environment.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. Dizziness is another indication that damage has happened, particularly if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these loud events and you feel dizzy you could have damaged your ears.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. Loud noise causes hearing loss because the excessively loud volume levels damage the tiny hairs in your ear responsible for sensing vibrations in the air. And when an injury to these tiny hairs occurs, they will never heal. That’s how fragile and specialized they are.
And the phrase “ow, my little ear hairs hurt” isn’t something you ever hear anyone say. So looking out for secondary symptoms will be the only way you can detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do detect symptoms, what should I do?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is loving it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start ringing. What should you do? How loud is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyhow?)
Well, you’ve got a few solutions, and they vary when it comes to how helpful they’ll be:
- 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 isn’t any reason not to keep a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever. Now, if the volume begins to get a bit too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Use anything to cover your ears: The goal is to protect your ears when things are too loud. So if you don’t have any earplugs and the volume levels have caught you by surprise, consider using anything you can find to cover up and protect your ears. It won’t be the most effective way to reduce the sound, but it will be better than no protection.
- Find 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 dollars you pay will be well worth it.
- Put some distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears start hurting, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! Essentially, move further away from the origin 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 needed respite.
- You can leave the concert venue: If you really want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best solution. But it may also finish your fun. It would be understandable if you’d 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 any other strategies that are more reliable?
So, disposable earplugs will do when you’re mainly concerned with safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a concert. But if you work in your garage daily 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 not the same.
You will want to use a little more advanced methods in these situations. Those measures could include the following:
- Wear professional or prescription level hearing protection. This could include personalized earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The level of protection improves with a better fit. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
- Talk to us today: You need to identify where your current hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to notice and note any damage. Plus, we’ll have all kinds of individualized tips for you, all designed to protect your ears.
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Ambient noise is usually monitored by your smartphone automatically, but you can also get an app for that. When noise becomes too loud, these apps will sound an alert. Monitor your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. 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 might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy 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 anything, even your headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
Because if you really enjoy 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.