If music is the universal language, then listening to your favorite tunes at a summer concert translates into a world of fun. But along with the lawn chairs, sunscreen and snack-filled cooler, don’t forget to take along these practical summer concert-listening tips and a good set of disposable foam ear plugs. The hearing you save just may be your own.
Extreme sounds produce vibrations that damage hair cells in the inner ear and prevent them from carrying sound information to the brain. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 5.2 million children and 26 million adults have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise – otherwise known as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). The good news? Hearing health professionals believe more than 40 percent of all hearing loss can be prevented simply by taking a few precautions.
Choose outdoor venues when possible.
Outdoor concerts are easier on the ears than those conducted indoors because the sound isn’t as intensely concentrated. Choose a seat where you can see the performers and comfortably hear the music, but aren’t so close to the speakers that your ears ring between songs or you have to shout to be heard by the person sitting next to you.
Invest in some disposable foam earplugs just in case. They are inexpensive and readily available at area drug and grocery stores. Most brands promise a noise reduction of at least 30 dB; some are packaged in plastic cases which make them easy to transport in a purse or pocket.
Take along earplugs to an indoor concert.
The sound at an indoor concert can be deafening – literally. Chamber music in a small auditorium measures 75-85 decibels (dB). Music generated at a rock concert can easily reach 115 dB – the same noise level as a leaf blower or chain saw.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) regulations set safe sound limits in the workplace at no more than 85 dB and require employers to provide their employees with protective hearing equipment if their job exceeds that noise level.
Choose to wear earplugs or noise reducing ear muffs at indoor concerts. Look for less-noisy areas, such as concessions or restrooms where you can take a break and give your ears a rest.
Turn the volume down on your MP3 player
If you can’t get tickets to the concert and opt to listen to your favorite band on a MP3 player instead, keep the volume at a reasonable level. Because the earphones are situated so close to your inner ear, listening to music in this manner on a consistent basis can permanently damage your hearing over a long period of time.
A recent study by audiologists at University of Colorado at Boulder and Children’s Hospital in Boston estimate that 80 percent of individuals listen to music at dangerous levels – especially when their tunes are challenged by competing noise. They recommend setting your volume to a comfortable listening level and investing in earphones that reduce background noise.