With more concerts and live music coming back, you may have plans to attend a show. While this is exciting, it is important to practice the necessary safety measures to protect your hearing health. Live music is a common source of loud noise exposure which can contribute to hearing loss. One time or consistent absorption of loud noise can contribute to noise induced hearing loss. Hearing loss is a medical condition that impacts over 48 million people, making it the third most common health issue people live with today.
Fortunately, noise induced hearing loss is totally preventable. Practicing safety tips can significantly protect your hearing health, allowing you to fully and safely enjoy the show.
Loud Noise & Hearing Health
Noise can have a major effect on hearing. Being exposed to excessive noise levels one time or on a consistent basis can cause hearing loss. Loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear which play a critical role in how we hear and process sound. These sensory cells convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals which then get sent to the brain to be further processed. The brain assigns meaning to these signals which allows us to understand what we hear.
Loud noise can desentize hair cells in the inner ear, preventing them from performing their essential function. Unlike other types of cells we have, hair cells in the inner ear do not regenerate. Humans are born with all of the sensory cells in the inner ear that we will ever have – thousands in each ear. There are also no medical treatments that can replenish or repair these cells which means that damage is permanent. This results in chronic noise induced hearing loss which reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound.
Understanding How Loud is Too Loud?
To protect your hearing, it is important to understand noise levels. Sound is measured in units referred to as decibels (dB) and noise above 85dB can be hazardous for hearing health. This is equivalent to busy city traffic, a noisy restaurant during peak hours, and a hair dryer. Experts suggest that people can be exposed to 85dB of sound for 8 hours per day without compromising hearing health. But for sound that suprasses 85dB, exposure time should be significantly reduced.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), exposure time to noise above 85dB should be reduced by half for every increase of 3 decibels. Their guidelines for safe listening include:
- 85dB: 8 hours
- 88dB: 4 hours
- 91dB: 2 hours
- 94dB: 30min
- 97dB: 15min
Live music easily produces sound that exceeds 85dB. Concerts, depending on the venue and type of music, can actually reach between 100dB -120dB! People can only be safely exposed to 100dB of sound for around 7 minutes but this is still dangerous for one’s hearing. This highlights the importance of protecting your hearing while at a live music show.
Tips to Protect Your Hearing
Noise induced hearing loss is completely preventable. There are easy tips you can integrate to protect your hearing, reducing your risk of experiencing damage to your hearing health. A few simple practices you can implennet include:
- Wear hearing protection: one of the best ways to protect your hearing during a show is to wear hearing protection. There is a range of hearing protection including headphones, earmuffs, and earbuds. Venues typically sell earbuds which are small and easy to carry, allowing you to wear them when sound levels get high. This provides your ears with a physical barrier, reducing the amount and impact of loud noise you absorb.
- Take breaks: taking listening breaks during a show is another great way to protect your hearing. This provides your ears and brain with time to rest and recuperate from absorbing and processing so much sound. You can take breaks during a show by going to the bathroom, getting something to eat, or finding a quieter space to be in for a few minutes at a time.
- Test hearing: it is useful to integrate hearing tests intp annual health check-ins. This allows you to track your hearing health and identify any changes you may experience over time. Treating any symptoms early can significantly help and support your hearing health and wellness.
Contact us today to learn more about how you can best protect your hearing and the protective wear options that can be optimal for you.