The Tampa Bay area can be a very noisy place for recreational activities. We have loud cheering crowds at major league baseball games, professional football games, very successful hockey team events, the Gasparilla parade and celebration, and the St. Petersburg Grand Prix race. Attending a live concert or listening to music on an .mp3 player can be an enjoyable experiences. A day at the gun range and hunting are also popular recreational activities in this that involve high levels of noise. The list goes on and recently Gardner Audiology has been solicited to make amplified ear protection for national bands that are touring Tampa Bay.
Wanting to hear an event and the spectator excitement that comes with it is understandable. It can be an enjoyable experience. For many, the level of sound makes the event more thrilling; but not without risk. Recreational noise can be hazardous to your hearing. Prolonged exposure to high levels of sound can cause permanent hearing loss and even single, brief, very high impact sounds can result in trauma leading to permanent hearing loss, particularly for the soft consonant sounds of speech. These are regarded as the high pitched sounds of speech. Unfortunately these soft sounds can contribute up to 90% of what is needed for understanding speech. Hearing loss in the high pitches (frequencies) results in increased difficulty with daily communication activities. Hearing and understanding conversations, especially in noise or with women and children becomes difficult, frustrating and fatiguing. A high frequency hearing loss can impact a person’s ability to interact with others over a wide range of daily activities in social, recreational and employment situations. While high frequency hearing loss can be treated; typically with hearing aids, it’s best to protect your ears from loud noise rather than treat the effects of it.
Another potential result of noise exposure is tinnitus, usually referred to as ringing in the ears. For some, this can be debilitating. It can affect concentration, interfere with sleep, and lead to depression. While there are treatments available, there is no cure.
For many, the thought of wearing hearing protection during recreational activities is unacceptable; the muffling of sound and the degradation of sound quality and fidelity with the use of ear plugs ruins the experience, for music events in particular. Aaaahhhh, there is a solution worth investigating; filtered earplugs. These specially designed earplugs reduce sound levels while providing some good preservation of fidelity. Many musicians wear them to protect their hearing during performances. There are various levels of attenuation (degree of sound level reduction) available. In custom made plugs and in some “off the shelf” products, the filters can be changed as the need arises. The custom products generally give a superior fit in that an ear impression is used to make a plug specifically for an individual’s ear instead of a one size fits all.
The take away is that everyone should wear hearing protection when exposed to potentially harmful levels of noise and when hearing protection isn’t feasible, limiting the amount of time to exposure is important. In the best interests of children, parents must insist on the use of hearing protection in hazardous events. A properly fit set of ear plugs can go a long way to minimize noise exposure and reduce the chances for hearing loss.
Contact Gardner Audiology at this website or call 1-800-277-1182 if you want to talk to an audiologist about protecting your hearing.