How often have you left a concert to find your hearing muffled, or worse, your ears ringing?
Whether you are attending one of the city’s music festivals this summer, heading to a concert or partying at a nightclub, you are in a situation where loud music could permanently damage your hearing, according to a Chicago area ear nose and throat specialist.
Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri used to be a DJ, so he knows what it is like to be surrounded by deafening music for long periods of time. He wore headphones on his left ear to hear what he was playing for the crowd, turned up louder than the music coming out of the speakers – and now he has trouble hearing out of his left ear.
“In the last decade, we are having significant exposure [to loud music] with music players and concerts and things like that,” Cherukuri said.
Concerts like Lollapalooza can get up to 115 decibels, Cherukuri said, and “at that level permanent damage can occur in two minutes.”
“Ears are designed to hear certain volumes safely,” he said. If you exceed that volume, the hair cells that respond to sound in your ears can die off, and once they’re gone they don’t come back.
“It’s the only preventable form of hearing loss,” said Cherukuri.
- If you’re going to a concert or a place where you expect loud noise, be aware of where the speakers are and try to position yourself away from them, he suggests.
- Earplugs will protect your ears, but traditional ones may muffle the sound of everything but the bass. Acoustic or high-fidelity earplugs will lower the volume on the music without muffling.
- Take a break from the noise. “We know ears that get a break have time to recover and don’t suffer as much damage,” Cherukuri said.
- Drinking and smoking can make you less sensitive to sound, he adds, so pay attention to how loud you are talking.
“If you having to yell to hear the person next to you, you are at a level of sound that could be damaging,” he said.