Did you know that of all the forms of hearing loss, there is only one that is 100% preventable? That’s right!
Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable if you take the measures to protect your hearing. As we enter festival season this summer, music-lovers can take precautions to ensure that they have healthy hearing practices while enjoying their favorite performers.
Understanding Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is a form of sensorineural hearing loss. It is caused by exposure to loud noise over an extended period of time or in a one-time traumatic event (such as an explosion). Sensorineural hearing loss is located in the inner ear and the neural pathways that carry signals to our brains to be registered as sound.
We experience sound through a sophisticated process that begins in the outer ear. Sound waves enter through the outer ear and are amplified by the eardrum. These vibrations will move along to the inner ear, where inner ear hair cells translate these sound vibrations into neural signals. These signals travel through neural pathways to the auditory center of the brain where they are processed as sound.
Complications in the latter part of this process could cause sensorineural hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs due to damage to the sensitive inner ear hair cells. These cells, responsible for translating sound wave vibrations into neural signals, do not regenerate once they are damaged. In other words, the more noise you expose these inner ear hair cells to, the more likely they will be damaged and lead to sensorineural hearing loss.
How Loud Is Too Loud?
Our sense of hearing is on every day, even while we sleep. Also, as an invisible sense, we do not often pay attention to our hearing until we experience discomfort. A sound that is too loud will cause us to automatically cover our ears to keep out the loud sounds. Hearing specialists tell us that we should not be exposed to sounds over 85 decibels for more than eight hours. The louder the sound, the less time exposure time it takes to cause harm to our hearing. For example, sounds at 115 decibels can harm our hearing in less than 30 seconds.
To put this into context, a normal conversation at average volume is around 60 decibels. A jet plane taking off clocks in at 120 decibels. We are not often exposed to sounds as loud as this, but the reality is, live concerts can actually reach levels dangerously close to 120 decibels. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the loudest concert in the world clocked in at 129.5 decibels, at a 1994 show by heavy metal band Manowar. Though it is unlikely an average summer festival concert will rise to this decibel level, live music concerts have been recorded at 100 to 120 decibels.
Ways To Protect Your Hearing At Festivals This Summer
No one’s saying that you can’t enjoy your favorite performers this summer, but it is important to take precautions to protect your hearing. Here are a few ways to protect your hearing at festivals this summer:
Wear Hearing Protection: Foam or silicon ear plugs are easy to find at your local pharmacy. These do help protect your ears from dangerous decibels. For the best protection, consider investing in a pair of custom made earplugs. These are form-fitting in your ear canals and provide more protection than generic pairs of earplugs.
Take a Break: Give your ears a break by stepping away from the commotion for short periods of time. Find a quiet spot away from the performances and take a rest from the noise for 10 to 15 minutes before entering the noise again.
Outdoors vs. Indoors: Pay attention to your surroundings at concerts, whether they are indoor or outdoor. Indoor venues tend to have higher decibel levels, due to the enclosure of the space. Outdoor venues are “healthier” for your hearing, so long as you steer clear of the speakers. In general, try to stand far from the speakers to protect your hearing.
Follow the 60-60 rule: Hearing specialists recommend the 60-60 rule when it comes to listening to music. Listen to music for no more than 60 minutes at 60% volume.
Noise Detox: Before and after attending noisy concerts, give yourself a noise detox. Spend time in quiet, without listening to any music on speakers or headphones/earbuds. This will give your ears and your sense of hearing some time to recuperate.
Visit Us At Hearing Spa
At Hearing Spa, we provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing consultations. Regardless of your hearing abilities, visit us to make sure that your hearing health is at its best.