If you’ve ever attended a modern day rock concert and found yourself saying, “That music is just too darned loud,” it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re getting old. It could mean that your body is attempting to tell you something – that you’re in a situation that could harm your ability to hear. If after the show you’ve been left with a ringing in your ears (tinnitus), or you’re unable to hear as well for a couple of days, you’ve probably experienced NIHL – noise-induced hearing loss.

Noise induced hearing loss can happen even after one exposure to loud concert music, because the high decibel noises damage very small hair cells in the interior of the ear that detect auditory signals and translate them into sounds. Thankfully for the majority, the noise-induced hearing loss they experience after a single exposure to very loud music is temporary, and disappears after a day or so. However repetitive exposure to very loud noise can cause the damage to become permanent and result in ringing in the ears that never goes away or even in a serious hearing loss.

The amount of damage very loud music does to one’s ability to hear is determined by 2 things – exactly how loud the music is, and exactly how long you are exposed to it. Sound levels are measured on the decibel scale, which is logarithmic and thus not very intuitive; a rise of ten decibels on the scale means that the sound at the higher rating is twice as loud. Noisy city traffic at 85 decibels is therefore not just a little louder than ordinary speech at 65 decibels, it’s four times louder. A rock concert, at which the sound level is usually in the range of 115 decibels, is ten times louder than ordinary speech. The additional factor that determines how much hearing damage arises from very loud music is the length of time you are exposed to it, what audiologists call the permissible exposure time. For example, exposure to noises of 85 decibels can cause hearing problems after only 8 hours. At 115 decibels the permissible exposure time before you risk hearing loss is under 1 minute. Coupled with the knowledge that the sound level at some rock and roll concerts has been recorded at over 140 decibels, and you’ve got a high risk situation.

Forecasts from audiologists say that by 2050 up to 50 million Americans will have sustained hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud music. Live concert promoters, since being made aware of this, have begun to offer attendees low-cost ear plugs to use during their shows.One popular UK rock band actually worked with an earplug producer to offer them totally free to everyone attending its live shows. Signs are beginning to crop up at concert venues saying, “Earplugs are sexy!” In truth, wearing earplugs at a live concert may not really be sexy, but if they save your ability to hear and enjoy future concerts it might be worth considering.

Any of our hearing specialists right here is pleased to supply you with information regarding earplugs. In case a high decibel rock and roll concert is in your near future, we highly recommend that you think about wearing a good pair.