We’ve all been to a show or a concert where the music has been a little too loud and we’ve been left with that strange ringing in our ears. But what do we do if that strange ringing doesn’t go away? And what if we work in these venues that host loud concerts, therefore exposing ourselves to the ringing more frequently?
Whether you’re a regular concert-goer or you work in these loud conditions, it’s crucial that you protect your ears. Here are some ideas to help your hearing to recover after a show – and some practical advice about when to seek medical attention.
Why does damage occur?
The ringing is the result of loud noises damaging the hair cells in the inner ear. In response to noise, the cells vibrate, and this sends a message to the brain that there are loud noises to be aware of. If these cells are damaged, they can cause the brain to confuse the signal and make up the ringing sound instead.
This is typically a temporary effect of loud noises. However, if the cells are destroyed, they don’t grow back, meaning that damage can be permanent.
How common is ringing in the ears?
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 16% of adults in the US report hearing trouble, and around 11% of Americans have tinnitus. Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in the ears and one of the major causes is being exposed to loud noises.
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For musicians who are constantly surrounded by loud noise, whether that’s in rehearsals or during performances, the risk of hearing loss and tinnitus is significantly higher than it is for those who might attend their shows. The Hearing Health Foundation revealed that musicians are 400% more likely to have a hearing loss and 57% more likely to have tinnitus than the general public.
Tips to help reduce the ringing
Depending on how much exposure you’ve had to loud noise at a concert, there are some steps you can take to help your hearing recover:
- Stay away from loud sounds
If you’ve attended a concert, you’re more likely to find that your hearing will recover if you stay away from loud sounds afterwards.
Should you work in the music industry or at venues where you’re exposed to loud noise all the time, consider wearing earphones or earplugs while you work and sitting in quiet environments whenever possible.
- Play white noise
Ringing in the ears is much more noticeable if there are no other sounds to distract you. Playing gentle white noise can switch the brain off from the ringing sound as there’s another noise competing with it.
Like playing white noise, listening to music or watching the TV at a low volume can also engage the brain in a different sound.
Seek medical advice
If it’s been a few days since you went to the concert or you’ve noticed the ringing has been around for a while, it’s worth going to see a doctor or audio specialist for some advice. They will be able to run some tests to see how your hearing is and will decide whether further tests are needed.
If you have any concerns about your hearing, always seek a medical opinion.