Ringing in the Ears: Why do I Get it After a Concert?
Don’t be fooled too load for too long does effect our hearing after a while…Click to see a video on why your hearing can be damage by loud noises
If you have even had ringing in your ears after a concert you’ll recognize this straight away…
When you watch people coming out of a club or concert after having seen their favourite band of singer, you’ll notice a lot of them will prodding their ears in a vain attempt to try and stop the high-pitched ringing and get them working again. Some people describe the noise as like listing to a radio that is not in tune.
What you can be sure of though, is that those who were closest to the speakers will be having greater problems compared with those further away. Through experience, most of the people leaving the concept know that the effects of the loud music will only last for a day or so — it’s just annoying and thankfully not anything too serious.
The question is, why do our ears ring after we’d been to a loud concert. The answer is surprisingly simple — our ears have been temporarily damaged because we subjected them to a volume of noise (sorry music) far higher than they meant to cope with.
When sound enters the ear it ends up causing tiny hairs within the cochlear to vibrate. The nerve cells at the root of these hairs pick up those vibrations and fire nerve impulses which then go through the nervous system through to the brain which then makes sense of what has been heard.
Damage can occur in two ways.
Firstly physically, in that the vibrations the hairs experience are so violent that they become bent or broken and so don’t work. Or secondly the the cells in the nerves at the base of the hair which pick up these vibrations become overstimulated by the sound. When suffering trauma like this, the nerve cells start to fire on their own — without there being any physical stimulation — sending pulses through to the brain which interprets that as noise and so you get the ringing.
The thing is once you have got ringing in the ears from attending a concert (or from any other loud noise) is not really a lot you can do about it — you’ll just have to live with it until it goes away on its own. Normally, hairs within the inner ear are just bent, they will straighten themselves out over a period of time. On the other hand, if the hairs have been broken, this damage will be permanent. And further exposure will only result in more hairs being broken – leading to an eventual permanent loss of hearing.
While the obvious answer is not to expose your ears to loud noises, this could mean that you would end up not going out anywhere at all. And anyway, for most people going to a few concerts a year will not lead to permanent damage with their hearing returning to normal within a day or so. However there are a few things that you can do to help yourself …
This would be important particularly if you find that your ears are taking longer and longer to come back to normal as it shows that damage is starting to be done to your hearing and it could become permanent. Some regular concert goers wear very discreet earplugs. Which means that they can still enjoy going to concerts — experiencing all of the thrill of the music and live performance — simply popping out of their earplugs on the way out leaving their hearing still more or less as it should be.
In fact, it’s not just concert goers that use earplugs nowadays. Although they might be shy to admit it, Many band members protect their hearing through the use of discreet earplugs. Which if you think about it is very sensible particularly as they rely on being able to hear and play music in order to make their living.
Whilst it may be tempting to go and sit or stand at the fron of a concert, it also means that you’re right next to the speakers. Forgoing the pleasure of the close proximity to the stars and experiencing the thrilling crush of the crowd. – standing a little way back to means not only will you have more room to move but you’ll also have substantially less noise going in your ears. But you can guarantee that you’ll still be to hear the band — that’s for sure.
While not unknown, it’s rare for people to have permanent hearing damage by just attending concerts. It would normally take greatly extended exposure to loud noises to cause permanent damage of this type.
The Working Environment
Just as an aside. Your more likely to receive permanent hearing damage through being subjected to loud noises at work than you are at concerts. This is because work-related noise is experienced every day five days a week — not just one evening every couple of months.
One question that people will ask is “how loud is too loud?” As a simple guide if you’re a metre away from somebody and have to raise your voice or shout for that person to hear you, then your environment is too noisy for the good health of your ears. And it’s a medical fact that noise louder than 110 dB is will damage your hearing — most concerts and many clubs are louder than that.
Just to put things into perspective. Not many of us would enjoy listening to a lawnmower for 3 hours — that would be boring as well as noisy — but the average lawnmower produces only about 85 dBs. And most government guidelines recommend that we don’t expose ourselves to noise is louder than that.