Football Season and Noise-induced Hearing Loss
It’s fall, which also means it’s football season! With all of the excitement surrounding the game and your favorite players, you may not consider one factor: football games can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus.
Whether it’s at a high school, or you’re watching the NFL from the stands, be prepared before attending the game. There are long-term consequences of loud stadium noises.
How do you know when it’s too loud?
Noises are measured in decibel units. A humming refrigerator typically reaches up to 40 decibels, whereas firework noises can be as high as 145 decibels.
Irreversible damage to your hearing can happen when being exposed to 85 decibels or more. It’s important to be cautious when you are in a location where noise goes past this level, even if you don’t think it appears to be very risky. An average game at the NFL stays at about 90 decibels, although they can - and have a tendency to - become louder.
The amount of time exposure and decibel levels are factored into the damage that is done to your hearing health. The loud blow of an air horn can reach up to 129 decibels, and it only takes a very short amount of time for it to cause permanent damage to your hearing. If the decibel level stays at 85 for an extended period of time, it can take 15 minutes to affect your hearing. Staying at a game for three and a half hours with decibels between 90 to 130 can raise your chance of losing your hearing.
Suffering from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
The most common hearing problems that may arise from being at a football game are Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus.
If you have NIHL, it means that the hair cells in your inner ear have been damaged by the loud sounds. When these hair cells are damaged it is very difficult, or nearly impossible, to restore them. In some instances, hair cells can be reconstructed from nutrients that are released by chemicals in the ear. There is a minor possibility that hearing can be restored.
NIHL tends to gradually happen over time, which is why people don’t immediately catch on to their own hearing loss. Some symptoms of NIHL include hearing muffled or garbling noises, while being unable to comprehend speech. They might be able to still hear sounds, but may not understand them.
Tinnitus can be experienced as a buzzing, clicking, whooshing, or more commonly a ringing noise in your ear. People with normal hearing abilities may notice these noises right after you leave a loud area, like a football stadium. This syndrome fades in minutes or hours, but some people suffer from enduring tinnitus. Suffering from tinnitus is a sign that you have been in the presence of dangerous noise levels.
What to do to Protect Your Hearing Health
There is no known cure for NIHL, but hearing aids can help in nearly all cases. Hearing aids can help treat symptoms of tinnitus. It is important to take precautions by wearing earplugs to games, or other noisy environments. Use earplugs or earmuffs. Earplugs are small and affordable. Earmuffs can be used by people of any age-range. It’s a good idea to get ear muffs that are specifically designed for infants and children in order to efficiently protect their hearing from harmful levels of noise exposure.
If possible, sit away from loud sources of noise, such as the speaker, band, or fans with noisemakers and megaphones.
In addition to loud noises that are met at stadiums, sports bars can also get loud (especially during an exciting game). Turn the volume down to a safe level when you are at home with surround sound, or if you are listening with earbuds through your smartphone.
An easy way to know that you are being exposed to dangerous noise levels is if you, and others, need to scream in order to hear each other. You may also download a decibel app onto your smartphone, which can provide an estimate of the decibel levels in your surroundings.
If you, or a loved one, have concerns about hearing loss or tinnitus due to noise exposure, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation from our hearing instrument specialist.