Music to Your Ears: Protect Your Hearing at Concerts
How loud music impacts your hearing
Miami natives and electronic music lovers alike know that few spring scenes are as cool as the ULTRA Music Festival in March.
If you think that just one weekend’s worth of loud music can’t have a major impact on your hearing, then it’s time to think again. A 2017 study published by the CDC noted that potentially millions of Americans may have hearing loss and not even realize it. What’s more, 53% of the respondents had no job exposure to loud noises, suggesting that concert attendance may be one of the major causes.
When you consider just how loud a concert can be, it’s easier to understand how this damage occurs. The American Hearing Research Foundation notes that concerts frequently reach a sound level of 115 decibels or higher. And sustained sounds of 90 decibels or more may be enough to cause permanent hearing damage.
“Exposure from loud sounds can cause hearing loss from attending just one event,” says Dr. Tricia Scaglione, an audiology expert at the University of Miami Health System. “Additionally, loud noise exposure can also cause an individual to develop a constant ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, which in many cases never goes away.”
Hearing loss can be subtle and often goes unidentified early on.
But it can have some major implications over time. For example, the CDC notes that hearing loss can make it difficult for people to communicate or hold conversations, and can even endanger safety during activities such as driving. Over time, people with hearing loss may have higher rates of depression, dementia, heart disease, or high blood pressure, due to anxiety or irritability.
“Too often, I have patients newly identified with hearing loss tell me they wish they knew about the importance of protecting their hearing at loud events, such as concerts, earlier in life,” says Dr. Scaglione. “I ask them, if someone told you, as a young adult, to wear earplugs at a concert do you think you would have listened? They usually laugh and say ‘probably not – but knowing what I know now, I sure would wear those earplugs.’“
Fortunately, protecting your hearing is an easy thing to do.
The simplest step to take, notes the CDC, is to wear ear protection during the concert. Of course, wearing large earmuffs or noise-canceling headphones is not exactly fashion-forward, so earplugs are the easiest way to go.
Simple, inexpensive, one-size-fits-all earplugs can easily be purchased online. For musicians, avid concert-goers, or those looking for a customized device, the University of Miami Ear Institute offers custom earplugs which include a special filter designed to protect your hearing while maintaining a high fidelity listening experience.
Call 305-243-1840 for more information.
Another option is to take breaks from the loud music every once in awhile during the festival. Sustained exposure to high decibels is much more damaging to your ears than the occasional exposure to these sounds.
“Protecting your ears now means being able to enjoy many more concerts for years to come,” says Dr. Scaglione.