Some activities are simply staples of summer: Air shows, concerts, fireworks, state fairs, Nascar races, etc. The crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger as more of these activities are going back to normal.
And that can be an issue. Let’s face it: you’ve had 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 as you keep exposing your ears to these loud noises, you continue to do additional permanent damage to your hearing.
But don’t worry. If you use effective ear protection, all of this summer fun can be safely enjoyed.
How can you know if your hearing is taking a beating?
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.
You should watch for the following symptoms if you want to avoid serious damage:
- Headache: If you have a headache, something is probably not right. This is certainly true when you’re attempting to gauge injury to your hearing, too. Excessive volume can result in a pounding headache. And that’s a strong indication that you should find a quieter setting.
- Dizziness: Your inner ear is generally responsible for your ability to stay balanced. Dizziness is another indication that damage has taken place, particularly if it’s accompanied by a spike in volume. So if you’re at one of these noisy events and you feel dizzy you could have damaged your ears.
- Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. Tinnitus is fairly common, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.
Obviously, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are tiny hairs in your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and overly loud sounds can damage these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile 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 detect if you’re developing hearing loss.
It’s also possible for damage to occur with no symptoms at all. Any exposure to loud noise will result in damage. The longer that exposure continues, the more severe the damage will become.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
You’re rocking out just amazingly (everybody sees and is instantly captivated by how hard you rock, you’re the life of the party) when your ears start to ring, and you feel a little dizzy. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you standing too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you have a few solutions, and they vary with regards to how effective they’ll be:
- Try distancing yourself from the source of the noise: If you notice any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Put simply, try getting away from the origin of the noise. You can give your ears a rest while still enjoying yourself, but you might have to give up your front row NASCAR seats.
- Keep a pair of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re somewhat effective for what they are. So there’s no reason not to have a pair in your glove box, purse, or wherever. Now, if the volume begins to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
- Use anything to block your ears: When things get noisy, the goal is to safeguard your ears. Try to use something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. Although it won’t be as effective as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- Check the merch booth: Disposable earplugs are available at some venues. Go to the merch booth for earplugs if you can’t find anything else. Usually, you won’t need to pay more than a few dollars, and with regards to the health of your hearing, that’s a bargain!
- You can get out of the venue: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is honestly your best option. But it may also finish your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, think about getting out of there, but we understand if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the show.
Are there better 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 it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts nightly, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every night repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.
You will want to use a little more sophisticated methods in these situations. Here are some steps in that direction:
- Use a decibel monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to get an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets too loud, these apps will sound an alert. In order to protect your ears, keep an eye on your volume monitor on your phone. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
- Come in and see us: You need to know where your present hearing levels are, so come in and let us help. And it will be a lot easier to recognize and record any damage once a baseline is established. You will also get the added advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your hearing safe.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This may include custom earplugs or over-the-ear headphones. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always take these with you and put them in when you need them.
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 just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these steps even with 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. Being smart now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.