One of our favorite activities is attending outdoor concerts. There’s nothing quite like the spirit of a crowd hearing their favorite tunes together. Whether you’re in a stadium listening to the hottest pop artist, a folk performance in the park, or your favorite local cover band, listening to music live can be one of the greatest experiences life has to offer.
While concerts can be fun, it is important not to forget the potential dangers of hearing loss at loud volumes. Even for a short period of time, loud music can cause potentially irreversible damage. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to skip your upcoming summer shows altogether! With some good tips, you can enjoy live music AND keep your ears protected.
How loud is too loud at a concert?
When you attend a concert, it may seem like the high volume of music is something you can let slide. After all, a concert only lasts a few hours; it may seem like the risk is worth it. In reality, it only takes a few exposures to loud sounds to potentially cause irreversible hearing loss. Noises over 85 decibels for an extended period of time can cause hearing loss.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1 billion people around the world are at risk of hearing loss due to noise exposure in recreational settings, such as at concerts or bars.
Repeated exposure to loud sounds can injure delicate parts of the inner ear, causing noise-induced hearing loss. To prevent potential damage, we recommend utilizing safe listening techniques to keep both you and your ears happy and healthy.
Location matters – give those speakers some space
When protecting your ears, the most important thing to consider is location. The right location can make all the difference in how the volume of sound affects your ears.
When choosing a seat, choose a location where the decibel level does not measure above 85 dB. Many smartphone applications can assist in measuring noise levels just with the click of a button. Simply search “decibel measuring app” in your phone’s app store, and numerical proof will be right at your fingertips that you are in the best spot in the venue.
The type of venue also makes a big difference. Smaller, indoor venues can have much higher decibel levels as sound bounces off walls and flooring. According to a study conducted by the Flemish government, a rock concert in a small venue can reach levels higher than 107.5 dBs, when taking into account all instruments, as well as amplifications like speakers. After only 15 minutes, sound this loud can cause damage.
To keep your ears safe, we recommend attending outdoor - concerts. These can be music festivals or even orchestral events at parks or pavilions. The sky is literally the limit at an outdoor event! The lack of a ceiling can help sound dissipate, providing you with a healthy listening experience.
Don’t forget your earplugs!
It might seem counterintuitive to wear earplugs to a concert. You’re there to listen to the music, right? Earplugs are an easy way to stay safe, even if decibels go beyond 85 dBs and the songs you know and love will still sound great.
The right earplugs, if worn properly, can reduce noise by 15 to 30 dBs. You will still be able to hear your favorite song, just at a safer, reduced volume. By using earplugs, you are helping to ensure that you’ll still be able to hear the magic of music as you age, rather than just in the moment.
The right earplug should not hurt your ear canal after long usage. If you find your ears hurt, purchase a smaller pair. If you attend concerts just once or twice a year, disposable earplugs should suffice, but if loud music is a common occurrence, we recommend purchasing custom-fit earplugs.
Take breaks from loud noise
One of the easiest things you can do to protect your ears at concerts is to give your ears a break by leaving for a quiet location for 15 minutes. Although it may be difficult to find a quiet location depending on the venue, places like bathrooms may offer your ears some respite from the music.
Music should stay at the venue; not in your ears!
Although you may take home some memories, or maybe a song stuck in your head, you should not go home with sounds still in your ears. If you find yourself with ringing ears after a concert, that is an indication that hearing damage has occurred. Seek professional assistance and be sure to use proper safety precautions in the future.
Have fun and be safe
Live music can be one of the most magical things life has to offer. There’s nothing quite like seeing your favorite artists live. By being smart and following safe listening practices, you can continue to experience that joy for the rest of your life.
Love your ears for years
Many individuals are not aware they have hearing loss. If you notice changes in your, or your loved one’s, hearing, discuss your options with a hearing care practitioner.
Some signs of hearing loss include:
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- Turning up the volume on your TV too loud
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or speak more slowly
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially when there is background noise
If you are struggling with hearing loss, your local HearingLife office can provide you the support you need. Schedule a complimentary hearing assessment with our licensed hearing care professionals. Stay connected with the things you love, whether it’s friends, family, or even music, by protecting your ears.