With the warm weather of Spring comes a returning welcome to so many of our favorite sports such as baseball, softball, and tennis. Whether you play for fun or enjoy attending a big game it’s energizing to be around a cheering crowd as they swell with joy when the preferred team scores. However, with all good things, it’s important to enjoy them responsibly. The cheering of the crowd is infectious, but it can reach cacophonous levels which put your hearing at risk.
It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a close game, and you just might find yourself screaming at the top of your lungs along with all your friends and all the other fans in the stadium. Add in music booming out of surround sound speakers as your team scores triumphantly and the decibel level in a stadium can easily be loud enough to risk damage to your hearing.
As the sound level rises the vibrations can be loud enough to damage the tiny hair cells in your ear, which solely are responsible for delivering sound information to the brain. The intensity or loudness of sound is measured in decibels and any decibel level which exceeds 85dB or more puts your hearing at risk for permanent damage. It’s not just the level of sound but the length of time. At 85dB most people can withstand damage for up to 8 hours of constant exposure but just 10 decibels louder and the time it takes for damage to occur is under an hour.
Most people don’t want to talk about hearing loss during an exciting game. Therefore, it’s important to talk about it ahead of time. large Sports stadiums and arenas have repeatedly been measured for decibel levels, and on the average clock at over 110db! That’s loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in minutes! Do you ever leave the game with ringing in your ears? While it usually seems to go dissipate it’s a sure sign that you’ve sustained hearing loss.
The average game lasts close to 3 hours, and with levels of 110dB, the risk for hearing loss is high. With hearing loss comes strained communication, distance in your supportive relationships, a decrease in earnings at work, depression, loneliness, isolation, cognitive decline, and a higher risk for falls and other accidents leading to hospitalization. However, with a dedication to hearing protection, you can avoid many of these devastating side effects.
Hearing protection comes in many different styles with different levels of protection. The most affordable are foam earplugs which rest right in the ear canal. However, it’s important to wear these correctly or their protective effects can be voided. Another option is custom ear molds which are fitted for the cup of your ear, while others enjoy protective headphones. Depending on the model of hearing protection, it can decrease the level of decibel by 15-33 dB. Other models, such as those for hunters allow lower decibels to pass but provide protection at higher and more damaging levels, which may be your best option for the extremely extended loudness of stadium sporting events.
A good rule of thumb is that if you must yell to be heard by the person standing next to you, it’s too loud, and you’re both at risk for permanent hearing damage. If you enjoy attending sports with your children, hearing protection is even more important. Due to smaller ear canals, children tend to have less tolerance to sound exposure, making heavy-duty hearing protection essential. Even moderately loud sounds can damage a child’s hearing.
While it’s best to protect your ears when you can at your favorite sporting events, sometimes it can’t be prevented. If you feel like you or someone you care for is suffering from hearing loss, it’s important to take action. While itis most often permanent, hearing loss can be diagnosed by an trained audiologist with a hearing exam and be treated effectively using hearing aids. To find out what solution is best for you and your hearing, schedule an appointment with us today. We can find the best treatment for you and your unique lifestyle.