Summertime has some activities that are simply staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you like watching cars go around in circles, no one’s going to judge you). As more of these activities return to something like normal, the crowds, and the noise levels, are getting larger.
But sometimes this can bring about problems. Because let’s be honest: this isn’t the first outdoor concert that’s left you with ringing ears. That ringing is often called tinnitus, and it could be an indication of something bad: hearing damage. And as you keep exposing your ears to these loud sounds, you continue to do further permanent damage to your hearing.
But it’s ok. With the correct hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer experiences (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.
How to know your hearing is hurting
So, you’re at the air show or enjoying an amazing concert, how much attention should you be paying to your ears?
Because, naturally, you’ll be pretty distracted.
Well, if you want to avoid significant injury, you should be looking out for the following symptoms:
- Tinnitus: This is a buzzing or ringing in your ears. It’s an indication that damage is taking place. Tinnitus is rather common, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss it.
- Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally controlled by your inner ear. So if you’re feeling dizzy at one of these loud events, particularly if that dizziness coincides with a charge of volume, this is another sign that damage has occurred.
- Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably not right. This is certainly true when you’re trying to gauge damage to your hearing, too. Excessive volume can result in a pounding headache. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a less noisy setting.
This list isn’t exhaustive, obviously. There are tiny hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for picking up vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can harm these hairs. And once 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 people say. That’s why you have to look out for secondary signs.
You also may be developing hearing loss without any apparent symptoms. Any exposure to loud sound will lead to damage. The longer you’re exposed, the more severe the damage will become.
What should you do when you experience symptoms?
You’re getting your best groove on (and everyone is digging it), but then, you start to feel dizzy and your ears start to ring. What should you do? How loud is too loud? Are you hanging too close to the speakers? How should you know how loud 100 decibels is?
Well, you’ve got several options, and they vary when it comes to how effective they’ll be:
- Keep a set of cheap earplugs with you: Cheap earplugs are, well, cheap. They aren’t the best hearing protection in the world, but they’re relatively effective for what they are. So there isn’t any reason not to have a pair in your glove compartment, purse, or wherever else. That way, if things get a little too loud, you can simply pop these puppies in.
- Put a little distance between you and the source of noise: If your ears begin to hurt, make sure you’re not 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 having fun, but you may have to let go of your front row NASCAR seats.
- Check the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. Go to 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.
- Use anything to cover your ears: When things get noisy, the aim is to protect your ears. Try using something around you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume abruptly surprises you. Even though it won’t be as efficient as approved hearing protection, something is better than nothing.
- You can go someplace less noisy: If you really want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best solution. But it will also put an end to your fun. So if your symptoms are severe, consider leaving, but we get it if you’d rather pick a way to protect your hearing and enjoy the concert.
Are there any other methods that are more effective?
So when you need to protect your ears for a short time period at a concert, disposable earplugs will be fine. 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.
In these situations, you will want to take a few more serious steps to protect your hearing. Those steps could include the following:
- Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. When noise gets 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 method, the precise volume level that can harm your ears will be obvious.
- Speak with us today: We can do a hearing exam so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And when you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and note any damage. You will also get the extra advantage of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.
- Wear professional or prescription level ear protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean personalized earplugs. The level of protection increases with a better fit. You can always take these with you and put them in when the need arises.
Have your cake and hear it, too
It might be a mixed metaphor but you get the point: you can enjoy all those great summer activities while still protecting your hearing. You just have to take steps to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these steps even with headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better choices 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 keep doing that as the years go on. If you’re not smart now you could end up losing your hearing and also your summer fun.