A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Loud sporting events and concerts can result in hearing loss, here are three ways to prevent damage

Dr. Anne Olson
University of Kentucky

When we think of fall, sporting events and concerts come to mind. Though these attractions may bring in different audiences, they each have one thing in common – loud noises.

Loud sounds from these types of events, or even things like headphones and car radios, are known to cause hearing damage over time when the sound is above a high decibel level for prolonged periods of time.

(NKyTribune file)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over one and a half billion people in the world live with some form of hearing loss. Whether that be early onset, chronic middle ear infections, or hearing loss that has developed over time. This number could double by the year 2030, which is a direct result of our noisy world today.

Taking care of your hearing health can also have beneficial effects on your social and emotional well-being. Most importantly, hearing loss can make or break your ability to communicate effectively with others. This can relate to issues with language development in children and can even lead to social issues, such as isolation, frustration and even loneliness in both children and adults.

It is normal to enjoy your favorite tunes at loud levels, but it is important to still take care of your hearing health while doing so to prevent hearing loss as well as negative effects in other areas of your life.

Here are three easy ways to prevent hearing loss and keep your ears healthy:

1. Have easy access to ear protection.

a. Have ear protection like earmuffs or earplugs handy. They are great ways to protect your ears in any environment.

2. Monitor your decibel intake.

a. Apps like Decibel X or Niosh are great ways to monitor your exposure to loud sounds. Sometimes we are exposed to sounds that are louder than we may realize, so these resources are great to monitor accidental exposure. Speak with your doctor about the best audio levels for you.

b. Speak with your doctor or audiologist about the safest sound levels for you if you are unsure.

3. Limit exposure to loud sounds.

a. One of the easiest tips of them all is to simply take a break when you are exposed to loud sounds. Giving your ears a break by stepping to a quieter area in between extended periods of exposure, ensures that your ears are getting the rest and that they need to heal. After all, hearing damage occurs over time, so if you break up those long periods of exposure, damage is less likely to occur.

b. If you are listening with headphones, decrease the level of the sound you are listening to. Simply turning the level down can help you preserve your hearing.

Whether you are watching a movie at a surround-sound theater, seeing your favorite artist or sports team live, or listening to your favorite tunes through your headphones, implementing these healthy hearing habits can lead to a more fulfilling and healthy life for years to come.

Dr. Anne Olson, Ph.D., is an associate professor of audiology in the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

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