The summer months are packed with opportunities for outdoor adventures, but activities like swimming, attending concerts and festivals, traveling, and hiking or walking with earbuds can adversely affect your hearing health.
Sound levels at some summer events are well above the recommended 80-decibel limit and can adversely affect hearing for attendees of any age. Young children are especially vulnerable to hearing damage at parades, air shows, and more. Bring protection for the whole family to protect your ears and hearing during your summer fun! And when in doubt, contact a hearing professional for tips and treatment for any ear-related issues.
Table of Contents
Don’t forget your sunscreen!
You wouldn’t forget to use sunscreen on your face or shoulders, but make sure you apply it to your outer ear as well even if you are wearing a hat. The skin is very sensitive and is also likely to be exposed to direct sunlight while you are out and about. Apply sunscreen behind your ears, and on the tops and sides (but never in the ear canal!). Up to 10% of skin cancers occur on the ear, so if you feel any lumps or see any lesions or flaky patches, reach out to your doctor immediately.
Hearing care on airplanes – equalize!
Don’t let a common problem derail your vacation plans! Barotitis, or inflammation in your ears, is caused by the environmental pressure changes that occur when your airplane descends. You may feel pressure, pain, or dizziness, or you may experience ringing in your ears or even hearing loss. Avoid barotitis by taking a decongestant or antihistamine before you board the plane, and chewing, yawning, or swallowing when the captain alerts you that you are approaching your destination. Give babies or toddlers a pacifier to some water to sip as the plane descends. The sucking action will help them avoid pain in the ears.
Don’t try to treat ear infections at home
Our ears have natural defenses that keep them clean and help prevent infections, but problems can occur despite your best efforts. Swimmer’s ear is one of the most common hazards of summertime fun. The infection in the outer ear canal is often a result of water that remains in your ear, which creates a moist environment that encourages the growth of bacteria. Inserting cotton swabs, fingers, or other objects into your ears can damage the thin layer of skin that lines your ear canal, which can also result in an infection. Symptoms of a mild infection may include some hearing loss, discomfort or itching, but advanced progression can present with a fever, severe pain, or complete blockage of your ear canal. You can avoid swimmer’s ear by:
- Keep your ears dry. Tip your head to either side after being submerged in water or bathing to help any remaining water to drain out.
- Wear earplugs or a bathing cap while swimming
- Choose your swimming hole wisely. Man-made pools are treated with chemicals that discourage bacterial growth, but rivers, lakes, and ponds can house bacteria or fungi that can be harmful to your ears. Be sure to heed posted warnings about high bacteria counts.
Another reason to wear a helmet!
It’s not the engine noise that can wreak havoc on your hearing health. Any motorsport that exposes you to wind at 65MPH or more can produce noise levels in excess of 103 decibels. That’s louder than a chainsaw! At 115 decibels, just 15 minutes of exposure can cause irreversible hearing loss. If you are planning a high-speed summer, remember your helmet and mitigate exposure to high wind levels. A pair of over-the-counter disposable earplugs can also protect you from damage. In some states, motorcyclists can use hear-through earplugs that still allow them to hear road noises, sirens, or car horns. Be sure to check your state’s laws around hearing protection for motorcyclists and people who ride in convertibles or other open-air vehicles.
Reduce exposure while you rock out
Prolonged exposure to any sound over 85 decibels can damage your hearing, but it can be tough to resist the siren song of those summertime festivals and concerts. The sound at these events often exceeds 100 decibels, and just two minutes of exposure to 110 decibels can cause damage. There are ways to protect yourself while still enjoying your favorite band. Don’t let two hours of fun cause permanent damage to your hearing!
- Opt for an indoor show. Sound is absorbed during indoor events, but the sound dispersal at an outside concert may cause the band to turn the music up even louder.
- Sit away from the speakers. You’ll still enjoy the show from a seat rather than the floor, and as a bonus, those tickets tend to be cheaper!
- Wear earplugs. While it may seem counter-intuitive, many concert-goers (and professional music-makers) opt to wear musician earplugs, which allow users to hear across all frequencies while protecting their hearing. There are over-the-counter options available, but if you are a frequent concertgoer, contact a hearing professional to discuss custom-made earplugs that fit deeply inside your ear to seal within the bony portion of the canal. Some people opt for in-ear monitors (IEMs), state-of-the-art technology that allows users to hear speech or music while protecting hearing from loud crowds or screechy amps. Universal IEMs are available and include interchangeable silicone or foam tips that allow for a semi-custom fit.
- Make sure young children are protected with a set of heavy-duty earmuffs. Their hearing is more vulnerable to damage than that of adults.
Prepare for festive celebrations
There’s nothing so American as a beautiful, elaborate, LOUD fireworks display! Americans love to celebrate with fireworks for major holidays, and people flock to Fourth of July celebrations where explosions shock and delight us. Most fireworks produce sound upward of 125 decibels, which can affect your hearing and are not safe for infants and toddlers. Protect yourself with disposable earplugs and preserve your hearing health. Avoid the “backyard displays” where injuries can extend far beyond those that affect your ears.
Aim for hearing health
An estimated 40 million Americans participate in warm-weather target shooting each year. They are at risk for asymmetrical hearing loss, or “shooter’s ear”, because nearly all firearms create noise that is above 140 decibels (even smaller caliber options result in levels above 120 decibels). This can cause immediate hearing damage. Consider your environment, because enclosed areas or indoor shooting ranges within inadequate sound suppression increases your exposure to reverberation. Target shooters should always wear earplugs, and when possible, double up on the protection and wear earmuffs as well.
Protect your hearing while working outside
A lovely lawn is important to you (and your HOA), but yard care activities can adversely affect your hearing. Most equipment used for law care produces sound that measures between 80 and 105 decibels, and prolonged exposure at those levels can cause adverse effects. Take a tip from professional landscapers and utilize proper precautions with earplugs or earmuffs while you mow, blow, and trim, and consider electric equipment rather than louder gas-powered options. Perform routine maintenance on your equipment to keep them operating at peak performance, which can reduce noise levels.
Take a break from the earbuds
Everywhere you look, people are using earbuds while they make calls, watch their favorite show, or listen to music. But when was the last time you sanitized your earbuds? If you have an ear infection or are experiencing hearing loss, your earbuds may be the culprit. They carry dirt and bacteria, increase earwax build-up, which can lead to an impaction, and can even cause a rupture to your eardrum. How can you prevent these issues?
- Replace your earbuds with traditional headphones. They tend to be more expensive, aren’t nearly as convenient and much more difficult to manage on-the-go, but since nothing is inserted directly into your ear canal, they are a healthier option. Headphones also offer better noise cancellation than traditional earbuds.
- Limit the amount of time you wear earbuds. Switch to headphones or speakers at home.
- Clean your earbuds frequently. Use a gentle cleaning solution or a damp cloth.
- Watch the volume! Don’t keep your media at full blast for extended periods of time.
- Clean your ears regularly to prevent excessive build-up of wax with an over-the-counter wax removal aid.
Score with hearing protection at the big game
Nothing says summer like the crack of the bat! In an effort to ramp up the thrills at big games, stadiums are using speakers to blast music and fireworks to celebrate home runs or big wins. Cheering crowds add even more noise to these environments. Decibel levels at a professional sports event average at about 95 decibels, which is dangerous, and can reach up to 114 decibels. That can cause serious hearing damage. Wear earplugs, and make sure the kiddos wear hearing protection, too. More than 30 minutes of unprotected exposure at those levels can cause irreversible hearing loss.
Now that you know how to protect your hearing health, get out there and enjoy your summer!
May be you are interested in knowing more about:
No one wants to lose their hearing, but it can happen. When you start to notice that your hearing is not as good as it used to be, or when people around you start saying that you’re always asking them to repeat themselves, it’s time to take action.
There are many things that can lead to hearing loss: noise exposure, age-related hearing loss, ear infections or injury. And there are many ways we can help our ears stay healthy: wearing ear protection in loud places like concerts and sporting events; avoiding smoke and other chemicals; taking medications if they’re prescribed; staying hydrated and getting enough sleep.
The foods that are good for your hearing are the ones that contain vitamin C. These include citrus fruits, berries, and tomatoes.
Some people even believe that certain foods can help improve their hearing. For example, some people believe that carrots help improve their hearing while others believe that garlic can do the same thing. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim so it is best not to rely on these foods for better hearing.
Hearing is one of the five senses, and it is the sense that we use to detect sound. The ears are responsible for hearing and balance. They are located on either side of the head, just above the temple.
The ear has three parts:
– The outer ear, which consists of the pinna (the visible part) and the ear canal;
– The middle ear, which contains three small bones called ossicles (the hammer, anvil and stirrup);
– And finally, the inner ear or cochlea.
It’s in this inner part that sound waves are converted into nerve impulses that travel to your brain. This is where you actually hear!
Hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the world, with about 360 million people affected by it. Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, such as exposure to loud noises, age and genetics.
The first step to improving your hearing is to take care of your ears. This means avoiding exposure to loud noises, and wearing ear protection when you need to be around them. You should also get regular hearing checkups from an audiologist.
It’s important not just for your hearing but also for your overall health.
The second step is to improve your listening skills by focusing on what you’re trying to hear and being aware of background noise so you can filter it out or avoid it altogether if possible.
Some of the most common ear problems are ear infections, fluid in the middle ear, and hearing loss.
Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the outer part of your ear canal. Fluid in the middle ear is a buildup of fluid that can be caused by an infection or injury to the head. Hearing loss is a condition that affects how well you hear sounds.
The best way to tell if your ears are healthy is to visit an audiologist and have them perform an examination on your ears. They will ask you a series of questions about when you first noticed something wrong with your hearing and how often you experience symptoms like ringing in your ears, muffled hearing, or difficulty understanding speech.