by Matt Rawlings
With the World Cup coming up and festival season on the horizon, it’s important we think about protecting our hearing when at these kinds of events. While hearing technology has come on leaps and bounds (evidenced by these invisible hearing aids from Hidden Hearing), prevention is still better than cure.
These are generally quite cheap and can be used multiple times. They don’t block sound so much that you can’t enjoy the music at a festival but they do enough that you don’t damage the cells in your ears.
If you spend a long time in front of a speaker or with noisy fans, you can damage the tiny hair cells that pick up and transmit noise signals to the brain. This is why we get ringing in our ears after gigs, for most of us this will go away after a while but continuous exposure to these noise levels can do irreparable damage.
The best kind of ear plugs are those used by musicians (i.e not the foam ones) these filter the sound rather than simply muffling it.
If you are exposed to high levels of noise, it’s important you get a ten minute break every hour. This means offering to get the drinks in at half time during a football match, or going for a walk around the festival grounds between sets.
Don’t get too close
When at a festival or a gig, don’t stand right next to the speakers. Obviously, the sound is louder here and more likely to damage your ears. Find a vantage point that’s a comfortable distance away from the speakers.
If you are lucky enough to go to the World Cup this year, you can’t really get away from the noise of the fans around you but if you’re watching in a pub, just sit at the back where the noise is less intense.
Avoid noisy situations
If you love gigs, festivals or football matches, this is probably a horrible suggestion but it really can help. The odd gig or noisy match isn’t going to damage your hearing permanently but if you go to gigs multiple times a week or football matches every weekend, you could be causing real damage.
Try and cut down on how often you find yourself in these noisy situations. Cut your gigs down to once or twice a month. If you’re a football lover, perhaps only go to your team’s home matches.
Give yourself time to recover
If you do find yourself in front of a speaker at a festival, enjoy yourself but give your ears time to recover afterwards. Perhaps enjoy the next act from the back of the field, or go and explore all the little shops and food outlets.
The same goes with football matches or lengthy sessions in a noisy pub. Don’t watch a football match then head to a noisy club to celebrate a win (or commiserate a loss).
Follow these tips and use your own common sense and you’ll be able to prevent damage to your hearing in spite of your love for these kinds of events.