There’s a reason those Super Bowl commercial slots cost an outrageous amount of money: the whole world is watching! As we find ourselves firmly amidst pigskin season, it’s important to remember there’s more at stake than whether your hometown heroes make it to the big bowl game. In fact, a seat in the bleachers could mean irrevocable damage to your auditory system.
Get your hearing tested
The danger of exposing your hearing to the roaring crowds at a sports game falls in the realm of noise induced hearing loss. Many people are familiar with the singular, traumatic noise event that causes noise induced hearing loss. We think of people in the military who are too close to an explosive, or some other similar event. On a subtler level, harmful noises endured over a period of time can also wreck similar havoc if sustained long enough. This is the type of hearing loss we might expect from a lifelong factory worker who endures a too noisy environment day in and day out for years at a time.
In fact, there are a number of ways we do damage to our hearing in seemingly innocuous settings. If the volume is always cranked a little too high on our car stereo or if we spend a night out at a loud rock concert. Over time, and with enough instances of these events, our hearing is unable to repair itself and permanent damage is done to the sensitive structures of the inner ear.
Noise induced hearing loss
The short-term effects of a too-loud environment can be disconcerting. The immediate sense of hearing damage may appear as if the sounds around you have been muted, or there is an increased sensitivity or a ringing in the ear. Given some recovery time, these symptoms will likely go away. But they are warning signs to be more cautious of your hearing because the long-term effects of noise induced hearing loss are irreversible.
Eventually, people with noise induced hearing loss will lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds and voices in conversation will appear distorted. Folks with mild to moderate hearing loss can find listening to become so effortful that they avoid conversation and socialization. This makes it hard to maintain relationships and might lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Long term effects of noise induced hearing loss
Season ticket holders should proceed with caution, because years of games spent nestled within roaring crowds might result in the unintended consequence of damaged hearing.
A lively and raucous crowd of cheering fans at the average NFL game can create noise levels of around 80 to 90 decibels. That’s a degree of noise that is considered unsafe for the human ear to endure for long periods of time. And the trend of roaring fans just continues to go skyward as crowds are competing along with their teams. In 2014, the Kansas City Chiefs fans broke the record for the loudest outdoor stadium by sounding off at more than 140 decibels of noise.
Why a crowd can scream danger
Let’s face it, you can hardly liken a sports bar to a library. Often, there’s just as loud of a crowd cheering on their team. Restaurants and bars are notoriously noisy with decibel levels into the 80s and 90s and that’s not on game day. When a touchdown is made and patrons go wild, you’re looking at quite a spike in noise that careens into hearing damage territory.
Sports bars are still in the danger zone
Hey, your favorite players wouldn’t head out to the field without their full kit. So, if they’re wearing pads, why shouldn’t you use a similar protective strategy for your hearing? Ear protection earmuffs or foam earplugs from the convenience store won’t break the bank, but they will reduce noise levels by a considerable amount. Bringing noise levels down by 20 to 30 decibels de-escalates an unhealthy hearing situation back into something manageable and sustainable for your sensitive auditory system.
Remember to suit up
Of course, if decades spent cheering for your favorite team leave you wondering if it’s affected your hearing, do get your hearing tested. Undergoing a hearing test is quick, easy and painless. If there are steps to take to correct your hearing, a conversation with us at My Hearing Centers can lead to an array of options that will suit your particular needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and test.