Summer sounds include more than crickets chirping and waves breaking. Parades, outdoor concerts, July 4th fireworks, construction sites and even public transportation all have one thing in common: high decibel levels of noise.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), a normal conversation registers at 60 decibels. By comparison, some of summertime’s most fun activities wreak havoc on our ears:
- Boats and jet skis – 100 decibels
- Loud concerts – 115 decibels
- Racecars – 130 decibels
- Fireworks and jet engine takeoff – 150 decibels
- Cannon and shotgun – 170 decibels
The AAO recommends earplugs for prolonged exposure to noises starting at the 85-decibel level.
One in 10 Americans has hearing loss that prevents them from understanding normal speech. While aging is the most common cause of this condition, exposure to excessive noise can also irreversibly damage your hearing.
Here are some tips to protect your hearing in the summer months:
- Cover your ears
Invest in custom-made earplugs designed for comfort and durability. Buy them now and keep them handy in purses, wallets, briefcases and backpacks so you can easily pop them in when noise is continuously loud. This is especially important for children spending time at fireworks displays, concerts and the like.
- Avoid swimmer’s ear
Swimmer’s ear – caused by membrane swelling due to trapped moisture in the outer ear – is a common problem for swimmers. To avoid painful – and costly – ear infections, purchase custom plugs designed for swimming. After a swim, tilt your head to each side for about a minute to drain water from the ears and carefully wipe the outer ear with a towel. Do not try to remove inner ear moisture with a cotton swab!
- Travel safely
Many of us are eager to hit the road during warmer months. During road trips, keep the stereo at a moderate volume, and don’t use music to drown out background noise. Opt for noise canceling ear phones, instead. Air travelers often complain about ear discomfort, too. When the plane is taking off or landing, yawn, swallow or chew gum to unplug your ears. If these tips aren’t effective, pinch your nostrils shut, inhale a mouthful of air, and direct the air back to your nose, as if you’re trying to gently blow, to equalize the pressure in your ears.
- Prepare for loud activities
The Gig Harbor and Tacoma, Washington areas have countless activities scheduled this summer, including Independence Day fireworks and airshows, as well as concerts and boat rentals. Just don’t forget to protect your ears!During concerts, sit in the middle or back rows. While being close to the stage seems like a treat, prolonged exposure to loud sounds in close proximity can cause tinnitus and even permanent hearing loss. Protect your ears by wearing ear plugs and taking regular breaks when attending longer music festivals.
Airshows are extremely loud. Custom-made earplugs will protect your delicate inner ear from damage.
Unlike hearing loss due to a medical condition or aging, impaired hearing caused by excessive noise is preventable. Contact the audiologists at our Gig Harbor, Silverdale or Tacoma location with all your hearing health needs, like tinnitus treatment and state-of-the-art hearing aids.