How to Enjoy a Concert Without Hurting Your Ears
Most people, at some time in their life, have been to a concert with friends. Likewise, many have noticed a ringing in their ears once the concert ended. This is known as temporary tinnitus and indicates that there may have been some level of damage done to your ears from the loud noise. This damage can easily be avoided by using concert ear protection such as sound-dampening headphones or even concert ear plugs, a special type of earplug used by musicians and fans alike to protect their hearing from loud sounds at concerts.
How Can Concerts Hurt My Ears?
Any sound louder than approximately 90 decibels can damage your hearing. A typical conversation in a quiet environment is normally around 60 decibels. Concerts, on the other hand, are typically anywhere from 100 to 110 decibels. It is easy to see the potential for damage to your ears in this type of environment. The temporary hearing loss caused by loud sounds, such as concerts, is called temporary threshold shift (TTS) or auditory fatigue. Temporary threshold shift can be either short-term or long-term, and the symptoms include muffled hearing or ringing in the ears. Short-term auditory fatigue may only last for a few moments, but the long duration of a concert and high volume level is quite likely to cause long-term auditory fatigue, which can take as long as a few days to completely go away.
A Dutch study asked 50% of concertgoers to wear concert ear protection. The results of the study showed that out of those who wore concert ear plugs, only 8% experienced temporary threshold shift. Out of those who wore no hearing protection, around 40% experienced temporary threshold shift. It is not hard to imagine that this damage, repeated over time, can easily lead to a significant level of hearing loss. In fact, if you do not allow sufficient time after a concert or exposure to loud noise for your ears to recover from temporary threshold shift before you expose them to another loud sound, this hearing loss can actually become permanent.
What Is the Best Way to Protect My Hearing at a Concert?
Although it may not be cool to wear earplugs at a concert, you may be saving your hearing over the long term. If you frequently attend concerts, you may want to consider having a custom pair of earplugs made. Custom earplugs have the advantage of being specially made to fit your ear, thus reducing potential irritation from wearing them. They also can be made to be inconspicuous. Many professional musicians invest in custom earplugs to avoid long-term hearing damage. If you have some cash to burn, there are even high-end electronic earplugs that faithfully reproduce the sound that they are blocking at a lower level, so you can still hear everything clearly without damaging your hearing. And if you attend concerts and wear hearing aids, make sure that you always turn them down to a lower level during the show so the sound won’t further damage your hearing.