Now that summer is officially here, many people in Burbank will take full advantage of all the season has to offer. Granted, our weather isn’t nearly as extreme as that in Fargo, for instance. But we still tend to flock to the great outdoors once summertime rolls around; doing so can prove hazardous to our hearing.
Why is Hearing Loss More Common in Summer?
We’re fortunate in Burbank to have so many opportunities for summertime fun. The ocean is just a stone’s throw away, world-class theme parks are practically right in our backyard, and our entertainment options are seemingly endless, from concerts and festivals to sporting events. The down side? All of these pastimes can potentially harm our hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss is prevalent in Burbank and across the U.S. – and you’re more likely to experience it during the summer months. There’s a real correlation between the rise in temperatures and incidences of hearing impairment. 85 decibels (dB), about equivalent to the sound of Burbank traffic (when it’s moving, that is), is considered the safe threshold for hearing. Anything louder than that can cause irreversible hearing damage. The louder the sound, the less safe exposure time you have.
Summer activities that can potentially lead to hearing impairment include:
- Sporting events (e.g., Dodgers and Angels games)
- Motorized vehicles (e.g., powerboats, jet skis)
The good news? Noise-induced hearing loss is pretty easy to prevent. Protecting your ears by wearing earplugs anytime you are engaged in noisy activities such as the ones listed above will reduce your odds of developing hearing impairment. Foam earplugs from the corner drugstore are fine, but for even better protection and a snugger fit, consider having your Burbank audiologist fit you for a pair of custom earplugs taken from silicone molds of your ear canals.
Other things to be aware of during the summer months include:
- Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July and a thrilling spectacle to behold but lighting them yourself is fraught with danger. For starters, they can produce sounds in excess of 150 dB; that’s loud enough to cause immediate, permanent damage. Plus, there’s a chance you could lose a limb or an eye. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to let the professionals set them off. There are plenty of opportunities to view fireworks safely – take advantage of them!
- Noise may be the most common cause of hearing loss in the summer, but it’s not the only one. Chances are you’ll seek out a refreshing dip in a cool body of water on the hottest days of the year; be aware of high bacterial counts, which can cause a painful infection that might eventually lead to hearing loss if not treated. Signs are usually posted when bacteria levels approach dangerous categories, so look before you leap, as the saying goes. Even when bacteria aren’t a concern, water can still cause problems. If it enters the ear canals it can lead to swimmer’s ear, another infection that could potentially lead to long-term hearing damage. Prevent this by wearing swim plugs whenever you are going to be exposed to water (this includes all sources, from the Pacific Ocean to the shower in your master bedroom). Be sure to thoroughly dry your ears after swimming or bathing.
- Hearing aid users must take precautions to protect their devices from heat and humidity, either of which can damage the sensitive electronic circuitry, leading to costly repairs or replacement. Wear a wide-brimmed hat when walking outdoors in the sunshine; never store your hearing aids in a hot car; and take them out of your ears if an unexpected summer rainstorm catches you off guard. A dehumidifier will wick away moisture when you aren’t using them.
Want more tips for protecting your hearing (and your hearing aids) this summer? Your Burbank hearing professional is happy to help! Contact them with any questions or schedule an appointment.