Take me out to the ball game… But don’t forget to bring hearing protection! Sports stadiums like Hard Rock Stadium can be dangerously noisy, and you can experience noise-induced hearing loss if you aren’t careful. We review tips for protecting your hearing at the next game below.
How Loud Sounds Cause Damage
Inside the inner ear is the cochlea, which contains tiny hair cells called stereocilia. The stereocilia convert incoming soundwaves into electrical energy that is interpreted by the brain as sound.
If dangerously loud sounds, like crowd noise at a sporting event, pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy the stereocilia. Any damage is permanent, and sensorineural hearing loss is the result.
How Loud Are Sporting Events?
Any sound over 85 dB can cause damage with enough exposure. For reference, this is about the volume of passing highway traffic.
In fall of 2013, the Seattle Seahawks set the record for the loudest sports stadium on record at 136.6 dB. The following month, the Kansas City Chiefs topped them with a new record of a whopping 137.5 dB. This is loud enough to cause damage with as little as a minute of exposure!
Baseball is another sport that can be loud. One 2019 study found that the noise levels in baseball stadiums are high enough to cause hearing damage and/or tinnitus later. Their survey found that most respondents reported they did not consider wearing earplugs, and one-third experienced hearing muffled speech after the game.
How to Protect Your Hearing
Some strategies for protecting your hearing at a sporting event include:
- Wearing hearing protection. This is hands-down the best way to protect your hearing. Earmuffs and disposable earplugs can be purchased at a drug store or online, and custom earplugs can be ordered at Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center.
- Trying noise-cancelling headphones. If you don’t have earmuffs or earplugs but do have noise-canceling headphones, these can also be effective.
- Taking listening breaks. It’s important to let your ears and brain rest by stepping outside the stadium, perhaps to visit the concession stand or bathrooms.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Aaron's Hearing Aid & Audiology Center today.