Summer has some activities that are simply staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars drive around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). As more of these events return to something resembling normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are growing.
But sometimes this can cause problems. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s caused your ears to ring. 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 wane.
But don’t worry. If you use reliable hearing protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How to know your hearing is hurting
So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because, obviously, you’ll be fairly distracted.
Well, if you want to prevent significant damage, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Headache: In general, a headache is a strong indication that something is wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more pertinent. Excessive volume can result in a pounding headache. And that’s a good indication that you should seek a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is largely controlled by your inner ear. So if you feel dizzy at one of these loud events, especially if that dizziness coincides with a charge 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. You shouldn’t necessarily ignore tinnitus simply because it’s a relatively common condition.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can damage these hairs. And once an injury to these delicate hairs occurs, there’s no way for them to 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 signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.
You also may be developing hearing loss with no noticeable symptoms. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. And the damage will worsen the longer the exposure continues.
When you do notice symptoms, what should I do?
You’re rocking out just awesomely (everyone notices and is immediately 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. What should you do? How many decibels is too loud? And are you in the danger zone? How are you supposed to know how loud 100 decibels is?
Here are some options that have various levels of effectiveness:
- Cover your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the aim is to protect your ears. Try using something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly takes you by surprise. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can leave the venue: Honestly, this is likely your best possible option if you’re looking to safeguard your hearing health. But it’s also the least fun option. So if your symptoms are significant, think about getting out of there, but we get it if you’d rather find a way to safeguard your hearing and enjoy the concert.
- Try distancing yourself from the origin of the noise: If your ears begin to hurt, be sure you’re not standing next to the stage or a giant speaker! In other words, try getting away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means giving up your front row NASCAR seats, but you can still enjoy the show and give your ears a necessary respite.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the ideal hearing protection, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no excuse not to keep a pair with you. This way, if things get a bit too loud, you can just pop these puppies in.
- Find the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are obtainable at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you don’t have anything else. Typically, you won’t have to pay more than a few bucks, and when it comes to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
Are there more effective hearing protection strategies?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will do. But if you work in your garage daily 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 a little different.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more significant steps to safeguard your hearing. Here are a few steps in that direction:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: 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 let you know. Keep an eye on your own portable volume meter to ensure you’re protecting your ears. Using this strategy, the precise decibel level that can harm your ears will be obvious.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This may mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The better the fit, the better the hearing protection. When you need them, you will have them with you and you can simply put them in.
- Talk to us today: We can perform a hearing test so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And it will be a lot easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
Have your cake and hear it, too
Alright, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can have fun at all those awesome summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these measures even with headphones. Understanding how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.
As the years go on, you will most likely want to keep doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. If you’re not sensible now you might end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.