Protect your hearing at festivals this Summer

This weekend, we have a super exciting event in our region; Radio 1’s Big Weekend. There are over 80,000 people expected to attend the festival over the 3 days and if you’re one of them, we’re here to let you know how to keep your ears safe at this or any other festivals this Summer.


It is not uncommon to experience buzzing or ringing in your ears after attending a festival or concert. Sometimes, this will disappear after an hour or so, but in more severe cases, it could be a sign of hearing damage. Unfortunately, generally by the time you notice this, it could be too late to reverse any damage done.


How is your hearing damaged by loud noise?

Inside your inner ear, you have your cochlea which houses some small hair cells. As we get older, these naturally begin to deteriorate in some people which creates a hearing loss; this is what is known as age related hearing loss. This affects mainly people over 70. Loud noise can also cause damage to these hair cells. This could happen immediately after an exceptionally loud noise or over a period of time by consistently exposing yourself to noise levels over 80 decibels (dB). This is what we recognise as noise-induced hearing loss and this damage is irreversible.


How loud are music festivals?

We have to talk in general terms here, as different festivals may operate at different noise levels, but it is mostly considered that festival volume is between 90-100dB. If you are watching an act inside a tent, or if you are attending an indoor concert, the noise level may be a little higher at 95-110dB. If you stay in an environment where the noise level is above 80dB for eight hours or more, you risk suffering some form of hearing damage.


Why do you experience a ringing sensation?

If you do damage your inner ear hair cells, they may be unable to send sound information to your brain. However, it is also possible that they will now send incorrect information to the brain which is what causes a buzzing or ringing. This is also known as tinnitus.


Can you prevent hearing damage at a festival?

Yes!! There are some simple things you can do to help protect your hearing, such as not standing too close to any speakers and taking regular breaks away from the loudest music. Obviously wearing ear plugs will help to protect your hearing, but many people chose not to as they think it will affect their listening experience. This is not the case! Ear plugs have a noise-reduction rating (NRR) which tell you how many dB they will reduce the noise level by. NRR 22dB ear plugs will reduce the noise level by 22dB so if you were attending an event where the noise level is 100dB, this would be reduced to 78dB making the overall noise level for you a much safer level. This level would still be loud enough for you to enjoy the music.


If you would like any further advice on protecting your hearing from noise-related hearing loss, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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