Have you heard?

Summertime activities can compromise auditory health

By Kristopher Light

It’s finally time for summer and that means barbecues, beach days and pool parties.

It also means a lot of loud events like concerts, riding motorcycles and even yard work. These outdoor activities might be fun, but if we don’t take proper caution, they can lead to tinnitus or even severe hearing damage.

You may not believe it, but something as common as using a leaf blower can affect your hearing and cause damage. We don’t think too much about going to a sporting event, but even this activity can lead to hearing problems.

It might sound silly to think that almost every summertime activity is bad for our ears, but how often have you come back from a concert and had your ears ringing for the next few days, or gotten off a motorcycle and couldn’t hear what anyone was saying to you for a few minutes?

We tend to think because these impairments tend to go away after a little while, that it’s no real harm done. However, many times this is just not the case.

Wendi Trousdale, an audiologist for Hearing Health USA in New Hartford, provided some interesting information about how little it takes to cause damage to eardrums.

Any sound 85 decibels (or dBs) can cause hearing damage, and this includes many common activities we tend to not think twice about. A decible is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.

A leaf blower is usually around 90 dBs, while motorcycles, sporting events and concerts can be from 100 to 115 dBs.

If 85 is the limit, then we are surpassing that limit by a significant amount with these type of activities.

Even things like air shows can make your ears ring long after the planes have been put back in the hanger. We know that everyone loves outdoor summer fun, especially in a place that only has a few weeks of warm and nice weather.

But we need to make sure we are enjoying these times safely or the rest of the year you will be responding to every question with a loud, “What?”

Turn down the volume

So we now know many things during the sunny days of summer can be harmful to your ears, but how do you enjoy these activities without putting your hearing health at risk just because you enjoy football or watching the Blue Angels?

Well, if you are going to any of these activities or even anywhere where loud noise is involved, the best thing you could do is simply bring earplugs to these events.

If long-term hearing loss persists, it can lead to a lot of serious conditions. We have all heard that loud ringing in our ears from time to time, but even a little bit of tinnitus can lead to serious things. If it lasts longer than a day, you need to see a doctor to determine if you will need hearing aids.

Things like tinnitus and other hearing damage can cause what’s called “cognitive dampening,” which can make thinking and understanding a situation harder and can also triple one’s risk of dementia.

We all know losing hearing is natural as we get older, but when you have hearing damage from exposure to loud noises, the natural hearing loss is compounded and you can lose most of your hearing all together.

The amount of people who have not heeded this risk is astounding. According to Trousdale, around 40 million adults in the United States have noise-induced hearing loss, and most of these people are only around loud noises during their personal time.

We all know someone who has trouble hearing things, or can’t hear that high-pitched noise everyone else seems to be able to. We tend to think hearing loss just comes from natural wear and tear of life, but most people can start to develop hearing issues in their early 20s.

We tend to not notice as much, but as we get older these issues compound and make any natural hearing loss a much bigger deal.

Human beings just enjoy loud things; something about them is fun and exciting to us.

Hearing music live with the bass blowing in your ears while you dance, or watching a jet take off at 190 mph is fun and makes you feel alive. But you will still feel the bass boom and the speed of the jet will still be seen even if you simply temper down the sound a little bit.