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Why Do You Need Hearing Protection at Concerts?

guitarist performing at a concert venue

As far as symbols of modern living go, the continued rise and popularity of live music events and outdoor mass concerts strikes a vivid image of our enduring love of music and celebration.

No one wants anyone not to have the experiences that define their lived experiences, but along with the continued rise in festival and concert popularity, has also come to an increase in the number of young people presenting with mild to significant hearing loss and ear damage and as our younger generation gets older, this number is only going to get bigger.

The World Health Organization considers noise exposure a significant and frequent cause of irreversible hearing-related illnesses amongst youth today, with increasing numbers of young people presenting with NIHL – noise-induced hearing loss.

NIHL can be caused by repeated unprotected exposure to excessively loud sounds at one particular time or listening to sounds at high volume over a lengthy period.

The standard used to measure sounds and noise is the decibel, and regular conversation is estimated at around 60-65 decibels. Considering that exposure to a medium-rated noise of approximately 85 decibels can cause permanent damage to your ears, the sound levels at a music concert become truly horrifying 100-120 decibels. That is more than enough to cause significant and permanent hearing loss.

What to Expect After a Concert

Some of the conditions that one might experience after exposure to those levels of sound include:

  • Tinnitus: A constant ringing in the ears that can persist for hours or days after exposure to loud sounds and noise and, in some cases, will become permanent. This is a symptom of an underlying condition, and over time can cause those experiencing it intense irritation and discomfort.
  • Ruptured eardrums: Exposure to high noise levels can cause the delicate hair cells around the cochlear to be damaged and this damage is irreversible. 
  • Damaged hair cells: Then there is also what is known as a secondary effect of loud sound or noise exposure. This is when damage is caused to the arteries that supply blood to the cochlear, causing additional damage to the auditory system. Once damaged, you cannot regenerate the cochlear hair cells, which will lead to loss of speech clarity and loss of hearing of background noise.
  • Muffled sounds: A common symptom experienced by concert and festivalgoers is that of muffled sounds or the feeling of fullness in the ear. This further reduces hearing capacity.

Parents already know that getting their kids away from these events is nearly impossible, so custom-made earplugs are the solution. Earplugs stop a considerable amount of sound, making it down the ear canal and into the organ, protecting precious hair cells in the cochlear from damage. While earplugs are great, not all earplugs are created equal, with some offering minimal protection.

It’s important to reiterate that this damage can occur in some people after just one exposure to high noise or sound levels.

We often think those of advancing age only experience hearing loss; however, with the dramatic change in our lifestyles and modern conveniences over the last century, that is no longer the truth.