Are you a sports fan? Do you enjoy the thrill of a big game at the stadium? After being told to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic it can feel amazing to return. It’s not just the game but the comradery. It’s the ability to high-five a stranger when your team scores. It’s the collective cheering, cheering, yelling, and chanting. Big sports games give us a sense of togetherness and community and it surely is great to be back! However, it’s important to be mindful of your hearing.
How Loud is Your Stadium?
Sports venues are louder than you may suspect – loud enough to damage your ears leaving behind permanent damage. The loudness or intensity of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel above 85dB runs the risk of damaging your hearing. It’s not only the level of sound, however, but the length of exposure. An exposure of 85dB can be withstood for 8 constant hours, however, at an increase of 10 decibels, the time it takes for damage to incur is under an hour. Alarmingly large stadiums full of cheering crowds and blasting music can reach a cacophony of over 110 decibels (dB). That’s loud enough to damage your hearing in moments!
Did You Damage Your Hearing?
If you’ve ever left a sports game with ringing in your ears, also known as tinnitus, it’s a clear sign that you’ve sustained some degree of hearing loss. Even as the buzz dissipates the damage can last a lifetime. You may not notice it right away but over years you may notice that it’s harder than before to follow conversations and you may often not hear high-frequency sounds that others refer to.
How Does Loud Noise Lead to Hearing Loss?
While we collect sound with our outer ear, it’s the job of the inner ear to send audio information to the brain. It achieves this using tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia, which transform audio waves into electrical impulses. However, as sounds become too loud it can cause the stereocilia to vibrate too violently against the membrane wall which holds them. This can cause the stereocilia to shatter making way for irreversible hearing loss.
Protect Your Hearing
When you go to your next sports game, come prepared with hearing protection. Several types provide a diverse range of protection. A Seattle Seahawks game has the Guinness Book World Record for the loudest game in history with a decibel level as high as 141dB! That’s as loud as experiencing a gunshot at close range, an experience that leaves many with sudden and permanent damage. Most hearing protection can lower the decibel level of exposure by 15-33dB. Make sure you choose a pair that provides just the right amount.
There are a few kinds of hearing protection to choose from:
- Foam earplugs: These are lightweight, portable, and inexpensive. You must wear these, creating a secure seal in your ear canal for them to work properly. If worn wrong, they are as good as wearing nothing at all.
- Earmuffs: These can be worn over the ears to provide additional protection and are best when exposed to extremely loud noise. If your sports venue is notoriously loud, come prepared with earmuffs. Put your favorite sports team’s logo on each ear and wear them with pride, knowing you will be hearing the next day and after.
- Digital hearing protection: this technology is appropriate for extremely loud noises and is often employed for use by those who engage in target practice and hunting. Digital hearing protection constantly scans an environment for loud sounds and if sounds are extremely loud, the devices will reduce the volume automatically, while at safe levels you can hear the world around you.
Address Your Hearing Health
Is it hard for you to hear the people in your life? Do you feel you may be dealing with a hearing impairment? The best way to know is to schedule annual hearing exams. We can test your hearing and find the best solution for you and your lifestyle. Stay active, enjoy the game and be safe this season! Schedule a hearing exam today!