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Rock on into summer safely: Your ears need protection

As festival and summer sports seasons kick off across the region, there are many reasons to get excited and a couple of reasons to take precautions. Those two reasons reside on the other side of your head.    

Concerts and sporting events, for all their magical qualities, can be loud and sustained high volumes — as our smart watches increasingly let us know — can cause hearing damage. As such, CAA spoke with Jennifer Allen, manager of audiology medical services at Connect Hearing, about what eventgoers can do to minimize hearing damage while taking in the best of what summer has to offer.   

“At any loud event, it would be important to wear good quality hearing protection,” Allen says. “A good rule of thumb to tell whether or not you should wear your hearing protection is if the noise is loud enough that you need to shout to be heard by someone an arm’s length away.”   

Allen says we should all protect our hearing when the noise level is high at such events, but younger children are particularly vulnerable and should always be given protection.   

Ear protection is a good idea 

She recommends earplugs and says what you spend can vary depending on your budget. There is a range of products available from over-the-counter earplugs to custom fitted protection. Even generic earplugs whether silicone, acrylic or foam, will make a difference if they’re properly fitted to your ears. She says they should offer a seal, and one way to check to ensure they fit correctly is to try speaking when you’re wearing them. If your voice sounds different to you — louder and lower — chances are they’re a good fit. Meanwhile, audiophiles who don’t want to lose range in the music they’re listening to or miss the crowd’s roars at a game can invest in custom earplugs.   

“For concerts, we have flat-attenuation earplugs, which are called musicians’ earplugs, and they preserve the sound fidelity and are really well known in the music industry because they take the sound level down without changing the sound of the music,” she says, adding that she can vouch for the Audio Nova brand for this purpose.   

She noted that when it comes to optimal noise protection, custom earplugs are recommended. There are special ones made for hunting, driving (motorcycles, for example), focusing (for working in a noisy office), airplanes and swimming (these keep water out of your ears.)   

Custom earplugs cost about $200, but are made to fit each person’s ears so they’re much more comfortable, and they will last for many years, Allen says.   

Outdoor concert
Mario Beauregard | Adobe Stock

Other ways to protect your hearing

There are a few other protocols to follow when going to a concert or sporting event, Allen says. The first is to stay as far away as you can from loudspeakers, and the second is to take breaks from the loud noise (so get yourself into a washroom or out of the stadium for a short rest). She also recommends setting aside some time after the show to allow your ears to recover. Immersing yourself in a loud bar after your team wins the final or you’ve just seen your favourite band will only further exacerbate the potential for hearing loss.   

Watch your phone

Smart watches and phones often have noise-level apps, and Allen says she can’t speak for all of them. However, she does recommend NIOSH Sound Level Meter, a free app that was tested and verified by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.   

“[This app] is useful for a general idea of what the decibel level is,” Allen says. ”But just keep in mind that a phone case may have a big effect on your measurements.”   

Allen says you shouldn’t be in environments louder than 80 decibels for prolonged periods without hearing protection.  

Free hearing health check

CAA Members receive a free hearing health check and are entered to win a pair of hearing aids. Book and complete your hearing  health check appointment online before June 29, 2024. 

CAA members are eligible for a 10% discount off custom hearing protection at Connect Hearing clinics. 

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