Too Many Cheers for Your Ears?

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Expect the next Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to be loud – really, really loud.

In 2013, the noise level in the Dome was measured at 122.6 decibels, falling less than four decibels short of the Guinness world record for loudest crowd roar at an indoor sports stadium ever. To put that in perspective: 130 decibels equate to a military jet aircraft takeoff from an aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 feet. If a sound reaches 150 decibels, it’s enough to rupture your eardrum.

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Depending on who you root for, the outcome of the game could break your heart. However, it shouldn’t break your hearing. Here are three facts about hearing loss to keep in mind during the next big game:

1) The louder the noise, the greater the risk. But duration of exposure is even more dangerous.

Continuous loud noise is more hazardous than intermittent noise. At a football game, the noise levels fluctuate over time, so the risk of hearing loss as a spectator is expected to be less than for someone working an eight-hour shift in a noisy factory. Nevertheless, you should still take precautions if you plan to be in a very loud environment.

2) Pre-existing hearing loss may place people at greater risk.

If you have experienced a temporary decrease in hearing, ringing or buzzing in the ears or permanent decreased hearing, then it’s time to reduce further risk with noise protectors at loud sporting events or concerts.

Custom-fit noise plugs are comfortable, durable and recommended by most hearing healthcare professionals. You can also use disposable, non-custom ear plugs. Just remember to not reuse them.

3) It’s time to see your audiologist if permanent hearing loss occurs.

You might need a hearing test if you:

  • Strain to hear normal conversation
  • Must watch other people’s mouths carefully to follow conversation
  • Need to ask people to repeat what they’ve said
  • Often misunderstand what people are saying
  • Turn up the television or radio volume so high that others complain
  • Feel that people are mumbling when they speak
  • Notice that when using the phone you hear better with one ear than the other

So, what’s the bottom line? Understanding the risk of exposure to loud noise and awareness of the options available can help minimize your chance of hearing loss. Once your hearing is lost, you may not be able to get it back.

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