The summer music festival season is coming up – please remember to wear earplugs to avoid ringing in ears.
Even though ears are attached to our head we don’t always remember to take care of them. Let’s face it unless you look in a mirror you can’t see your own ears, and for most people, they don’t hurt. Unless they experience an awful ringing in ears sensation.
The most important thing about ears, though, is what happens on the inside. They exist to allow us to hear sounds and even beyond that, they enable us to maintain balance and that influences mobility. Sound is created when air molecules are set into vibration and sound is then heard when the ear feels the vibration or sound waves.
If you can remember back to high school human anatomy or science class you may recall there are nine main parts of the ear. The Pinna which funnels the sound, the ear canal which directs the sound, the eardrum and the three little bones – the hammer, anvil, stirrup that amplify the sound, the eustachian tube that communicates with the throat, and deep inside the neurological bits that look after hearing and balance – the the auditory nerve and cochlea.
It’s the eardrum that actually vibrates from the sound waves and the hammer responds by sending it to the anvil and then on to the stirrup. At that point, sound then moves into the inner ear. Once passed through the cochlea, it’s the eustachian tube that controls the amount of pressure sent to the auditory nerve, and from there sound moves to the brain where it is interpreted.
The ear and the brain work together to allow you to control your balance. The inner ear fluid plays an important role in mobility, which is why when you have a cold or an ear infection you can be a bit wobbly on your feet.
Excessive exposure to loud noise is a bigger threat to our health than most of us realize. Noise pollution is prevalent in cities and being around it doesn’t mean your ears have the ability to build a tolerance to it. In fact, once ear damage is done it’s irreversible.
We have 16,000 microscopic hair cells that are fine-tuned to detect vibrating frequencies from our eardrum. Up to 30 – 50% of those hair cells can be damaged or destroyed before changes can be measured by a hearing test.
If vibrations are too strong, due to loudness, the hair cells bend, break, and eventually can be destroyed. Unlike hairs on our head, they don’t grow back. Over time, health problems like sleep disturbance, headaches, and cardiovascular effects can occur as a result of hearing loss.
What’s too loud?
The ear can tolerate noise up to 85 (dB) decibels without damage, anything higher can pose a risk of hearing loss. However, it’s important to note that several studies have shown sounds at the 65 decibels range can trigger an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones in the blood.
We can become accustomed to hearing higher sound levels but that doesn’t make them less dangerous. Turn down your headphones and earbuds!
Some countries are paying attention to the health hazards of noise pollution. Germany, for example, has banned lawn mowing on Sundays. Europe has also legislated restrictions on commercial products like dishwashers and refrigerators.
Ringing In Ears
After leaving a very loud event, such as a music concert, you may notice that you don’t hear as well. You might not hear whispers, sounds might seem muffled, or you may hear ringing in ears. Normal hearing usually can return within a few hours to a few days. This happens because the microscopic hair cells bend when sound is very loud and straighten again after a recovery period.
However, when a loud sound is continuous more and more damage will occur. For example, people who work in industries that have loud machinery, or tools, will eventually suffer hearing loss. Loud noise exposure can also cause a condition known as Tinnitus – a ringing in ears, a buzzing, or a roaring sound in the ears and head.
Tinnitus is a sensation of noise in one or both ears even though no external sound is present. The ear is signaling to the brain, and in some cases, it can feel really loud. Unfortunately, there is no way to turn down the sound dial or turn it off!
The effects of living with Tinnitus should not be under-appreciated, and dealing with it every day ringing in ears can be very difficult. For people with mild Tinnitus being in a quiet space might be when they experience their symptoms more because external noise is not drowning out their internal sound sensation.
More advanced suffers, however, can struggle at any given time. This is a life-changing health condition.
Of course for both groups, being exposed to loud noise can worsen their symptoms. This is why protecting your ears with good quality earplugs is really important.
Wearing earplugs will not worsen or cure Tinnitus. They will, however, offer important protection simply because exposure to loud sounds can cause further ear damage or exacerbate symptoms.
People who attend music concerts should take precautions and protect their ears. Over time, and with age, hearing damage is irreversible, therefore, being a forward thinker is smart.
Musicians and those who work directly in the music industry are faced with a greater risk. Did you know that Neil Young, Bono, and Sting all suffer from the effects of Tinnitus. In fact, something like 10% of the population does.
When you consider that most music concerts project sounds in the 125-145 decibel range it is easy to see how constant exposure would lead to serious ear damage and hearing loss.
If you stand or sit near those giant speakers at music concerts or festivals then you can count on having ringing ears for a long while after the fact.
My Earplug Of Choice
I am always on the lookout for aids and devices to help reduce health challenges, or in this case, can offer the best protection.
In my left ear, I only have about 5% hearing so making sure my other ear stays healthy is very important to me. Clearly, using a walker and scooter already indicates that I have balance issues, damaging what hearing I have could further challenge my walking.
But hey – I also really love to attend music concerts and festivals. My hunt for ear protection ended with earplugs named “eargasm’ need I say more!
High Fidelity Earplugs
The Eargasm High Fidelity Earplugs use innovative attenuation filters and reduce noise evenly to maintain the full spectrum of sound while protecting hearing. They are made from soft silicone and feel comfortable, plus they are easy to insert and remove which is important for me because of my dexterity problems.
I also like that they are discreet and mostly invisible.
Each order comes with an aluminum-grade keychain carrying case so your earplugs are always within easy reach. When you’re wearing them you have up to 21 dB of protection but you don’t lose the joy of hearing the music.
I contacted the company that makes Eargasm and low and behold I was able to get us a 10% discount code!
So, my advice before you set out for your next music festival go online and buy your earplugs, and get yourself a10% discount by using the coupon code – Living Well Today.
Have a great summer music season!
Be sure and listen to our podcast about Tinnitus with author Glenn Schweitzer.
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