Large summer concert crowd of people in front of a stage at night who should be concerned about hearing protection

Summertime has some activities that are just staples: Outdoor concerts, fireworks shows, state fairs, air shows, and NASCAR races (look, if you enjoy watching cars drive around in circles, nobody’s going to judge you). The crowds, and the decibel levels, are getting larger as more of these events are going back to normal.

And that can be a problem. 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 experience, the more your hearing will diminish.

But it’s ok. With the proper hearing protection, you’ll be able to enjoy those summer activities (even NASCAR) without doing lasting damage to your ears.

How to know your hearing is suffering

So how much attention should you be putting on your ears when you’re at that concert or air show?
Because you’ll be rather distracted, naturally.

Well, if you want to stop significant injury, you should be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness: Your sense of balance is generally 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 sign that damage has taken place.
  • Tinnitus: This is a ringing or buzzing in your ears. It’s a sign that damage is taking place. You shouldn’t necessarily neglect tinnitus just because it’s a relatively common condition.
  • Headache: If you’re experiencing a headache, something is probably wrong. And when you’re trying to gauge hearing damage this is even more relevant. A pounding headache can be caused by overly loud volume. And that’s a strong indication that you should seek a quieter environment.

Obviously, this list isn’t complete. There are little hairs inside of your ears which are responsible for detecting vibrations in the air and excessively loud noises can harm these hairs. And when an injury to these fragile hairs occurs, they will never heal. They’re that specialized and that fragile.

And it isn’t like people say, “Ow, the tiny hairs in my ear hurt”. So watching for secondary signs will be the only way you can know if you’re developing hearing loss.

You also could be developing hearing loss without any noticeable symptoms. Damage will happen anytime you’re exposed to overly loud sound. The longer you’re exposed, the more significant the damage will become.

What should you do when you experience symptoms?

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. How loud is too loud and what should you do? And are you in a dangerous spot? (How loud is 100 decibels, anyway?)

Here are some options that have different degrees of effectiveness:

  • 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 excuse not to keep a pair with you. Now, if the volume starts to get a little too loud, you simply pull them out and pop them in.
  • You can go somewhere less noisy: If you actually want to protect your ears, this is truthfully your best option. But it’s also the least fun option. It would be understandable if you’d rather stay and enjoy the concert utilizing a different way to safeguard your hearing. But you should still think about getting out if your symptoms become significant.
  • Block your ears with, well, anything: When things get loud, the aim is to protect your ears. Try to use something near you to cover your ears if you don’t have earplugs and the high volume suddenly takes you by surprise. It won’t be the most effective way to control the sound, but it will be better than nothing.
  • Put a little distance between you and the origin of noise: If you experience any ear pain, back away from the speakers. Essentially, move further away from the origin of the noise. Maybe that means letting go of your front row seats at NASCAR, but you can still have fun at the show and give your ears a needed respite.
  • Find the merch booth: Some venues will sell disposable earplugs. So if you can’t find anything else, it’s worth trying the merch booth or vendor area. Your hearing health is important so the few dollars you pay will be well worth it.

Are there more effective hearing protection strategies?

So, disposable earplugs will work when you’re primarily concerned about safeguarding your hearing for a couple of hours at a show. But it’s a little different when you’re a music-lover, and you go to concerts every night, or you have season tickets to NASCAR or football games, or you work in your garage every evening repairing an old Corvette with noisy power tools.

In these cases, you will want to take a few more significant steps to safeguard your hearing. Here are some steps in that direction:

  • Use a volume monitoring app: Most modern smartphones will be able to download an app that monitors the ambient noise. These apps will then warn you when the noise becomes dangerously high. Keep an eye on your own portable decibel meter to ensure you’re safeguarding your ears. This way, you’ll be able to easily see what decibel level is loud enough to harm your ears.
  • Wear professional or prescription level hearing protection. This might mean over-the-ear headphones, but more likely, it will mean custom fitted earplugs. The better the fit, the better the protection. You can always bring these with you and put them in when the need arises.
  • Speak with us today: We can perform a hearing assessment so that you’ll know where your hearing levels currently are. And after you have a recorded baseline, it will be easier to detect and record damage. You will also get the extra benefit of our personalized advice to help you keep your ears safe.

Have your cake and hear it, too

Okay, it’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but the point holds: you can have fun at all those great summer activities while still safeguarding your hearing. You just have to take measures to enjoy these activities safely. You need to take these measures even with headphones. Knowing how loud is too loud for headphones can help you make better decisions about your hearing health.

As the years go on, you will probably want to continue doing all of your favorite outdoor summer activities. Being sensible now means you’ll be capable of hearing your favorite band decades from now.

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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.

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