Packing people into a stadium to cheer on their favorite sports team might sound like the makings of a perfect activity, but there is a hidden danger to such a wholesome pastime. An afternoon spent rooting for the home team raises red flags around hearing health. A lively and raucous crowd of cheering fans at the average NFL game can create noise levels of around 80 to 90 decibels. That sort of noise is firmly within the unhealthy and potentially damaging range, and that’s at a traditionally outdoor and unenclosed venue! You don’t have to hang up your jersey just yet, but there are a few factors to take into consideration if a snagging a seat in the stands is your favorite pastime.
The effects of noise induced hearing loss
If someone is exposed to harmful sounds, hearing loss can occur. Noise induced hearing loss can take place in one explosive moment or gradually and over time. It is the slow burn of repeated exposure to too-loud noises that is particularly dangerous. 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.
While the short-term effects of a too-loud environment can be disconcerting, but the long-term effects of noise induced hearing loss are irreversible. Eventually, you will lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds. 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 damages interpersonal relationships and might lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Symptoms of noise induced hearing loss
There are three commonly asked questions when determining whether the sounds you’ve experienced are dangerously loud:
- Do your ears ring during or after the event?
- Must you shout in order to talk to a companion within an arm’s length?
- Have you experienced temporary hearing loss after leaving the event?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you’ve been in a situation that risked your hearing health.
The unique case of the sporting event
There is much to be said about the enthusiasm and passion of a roaring crowd cheering on their team. It’s a fun place to be and a mainstay of American culture. However, noise levels seem to be at a fever pitch. Hearing experts measured decibel levels at NFL games, which are typically open air. If particularly celebratory moments peaked their readings at well into the hundreds, imagine what sort of noise is occurring at an indoor arena, where the sound of enthusiastic fans has no place to go. Airhorns have become traditional and your section neighbors probably have no hesitation in sounding off at a moment’s notice because it’s become accepted as part and parcel of the game experience.
How to protect your ears in too-loud situations
And while acoustics unique to specific stadiums or arenas might be particularly deafening, it really comes down to the volume of the fans. A rowdy crowd is a rowdy crowd, no matter what container you put them in. The aspect of control you have within this scenario is how you choose to protect yourself. This could be as simple as regular intervals of moving over to a quieter place to give your ears a break.
Another option to protect your hearing health involves ear protection. 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.
Treating noise induced hearing loss
If noise induced hearing loss has begun to make itself known in your life, your best course of action begins with a confirmed diagnosis. Once you’ve taken a hearing test and come away with a reliable diagnosis, you can schedule a consultation with an informed audiologist to consider next steps. Treatment is almost always available and today’s hearing aids are subtler than ever before, ensuring a seamless transition into nearly every lifestyle.
If you believe you are experiencing hearing loss, visit us at Custom Hearing Solutions for a consultation and hearing test.