If you’ve ever been at a live concert and thought “This music is just too loud,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve become too old for this kind of music. This reaction could be your body’s means of informing you that you are in danger of hearing impairment. If later, after you’ve left the concert, and for the subsequent couple of days you’ve had a ringing in your ears (tinnitus) or experienced trouble hearing as well as usual, you may have experienced NIHL – noise induced hearing loss.
NIHL can occur even after one exposure to loud music, because the loud noises harm small hair cells in the inner ear that receive auditory signals and translate them into sounds. Luckily for the majority, the NIHL they suffer following a single exposure to loud concert music is short-lived, and disappears after a day or so. However recurring exposure to loud sounds can cause the impairment to become permanent and result in ringing in the ears that never goes away or even in a significant loss of hearing.
The amount of damage very loud noise does to a person’s ability to hear is dependant upon 2 things – how loud the noise is, and exactly how long you are exposed to it. The volume of sound is measured in decibels, a scale that can be difficult to comprehend because it’s logarithmic, meaning that each increase of ten on the scale means that the noise is twice as loud. So the noise of noisy urban traffic (85 decibels) is not just a little bit louder than the sound of regular speech (65 decibels), it’s four times as loud. A rock and roll concert, at which the sound level is normally in the range of 115 decibels, is ten times louder than standard speech. In addition to how loud the music is, the second factor that impacts how much damage is done is the length of time you’re in contact with it, the permissible exposure time. As an example, exposure to noises of 85 decibels may cause hearing problems after only eight hours. At 115 decibels the permissible exposure time before you risk hearing loss is under a minute. Coupled with the fact that the sound level at some rock and roll concerts has been recorded in excess of 140 decibels, and you’ve got a potentially dangerous predicament.
Forecasts from audiologists claim that by the year 2050 as many as 50 million people in America will have suffered hearing loss as a result of exposure to very loud music. Bearing this in mind, many live concert promoters and venues have begun providing sound-baffling earplugs to attendees for a nominal charge. One famous British rock band actually worked with an earplug manufacturer to offer them free of charge to people attending its concerts. Some concert attendees have described seeing signs in the auditoriums that proclaim, “Earplugs are sexy.” Earplugs may, in fact, not be particularly sexy, but they might just save your valuable hearing.
We can help to provide you with a pair. We strongly suggest getting them next time you’re intending go to a very loud rock concert.