Summer holds a special place in the hearts of many! It’s a time of relaxation, fun, and making good memories with those you love, but if you’re not careful, summer also has the potential to be a dangerous time. It can be especially dangerous for your ears! That may sound silly, but it’s the truth – there are several ways your ears and your hearing can be affected during the summertime if you don’t take the right precautions and necessary care.
How do you measure sound and how do you know if it’s dangerous?
Who doesn’t love a good music festival or listening to fireworks on the Fourth of July? Loud music and fireworks basically scream summertime! But are you aware of how loud sounds can affect your hearing? Sound is measured in decibels (dB), and anything at 85 dB or higher is dangerous to your hearing.
Here’s an image of a decibel chart with examples used for varying sound levels:
Anything in green is considered a lower, safer sound. Yellow and orange are considered intermediate, but keep in mind that 85 dB+ can cause hearing damage, which starts in the orange/intermediate section. Red signifies sound levels that are extremely dangerous, and as you can see by the examples, that’s the exact category that fireworks fall into. It’s also said that live music ranges between 100-115 dB, which again still falls above 85 dB, making it dangerous to your ears.
How can you protect your ears from loud sounds?
The best way to protect your ears in these situations is to wear some sort of ear protection, such as earplugs or noise-protecting/noise-canceling headphones.
Earplugs are the recommended option by the Hearing Center at the ENT Institute, as they help cover the ear canal so that sound vibrations cannot travel down the canal to the eardrum. Smaller earplugs are able to insert inside the ear and form a tight compression against the canal, expanding and blocking it.
Keep in mind – when it comes to fireworks, you can stand further away from where they are being shot off and potentially be safe without hearing protection. It’s good to have a pair on you just in case. It’s also helpful to have a pair for children, since their ears are susceptible to damage at lower decibel frequencies.
Earplugs are an easy, affordable, and effective way to block out or protect against sounds. The Hearing Center offers custom hearing protection options. Our audiologists take molds of the inside of your ears to ensure you get the best fit and support!
Watch out for Swimmer’s Ear!
Along with concerts and fun summer holidays, who doesn’t love a dip in the pool, a weekend getaway to the lake, or a vacation on the beach? Swimming in some cool water on a hot summer day can be just what your soul needs, but it’s important to make sure you’re cautious of the water that accumulates in your ears because it can turn into something called Swimmer’s ear.
Swimmer’s ear (also known as otitis externa) is an infection of the outer ear canal. It’s extremely painful and can cause drainage, swelling, and muffled hearing. According to the CDC, anyone can get swimmer’s ear but is most often seen in children.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain when the outer ear is tugged or when pressure is put on the part of the outer ear that sticks out in front of the ear canal (the tragus)
- Itchiness inside the ear
- Drainage from the ear
- Redness and swelling in the ear
Treating Swimmer’s ear:
- Check with your healthcare provider if you have ear pain or drainage from the ear
- Swimmer’s ear can be treated with antibiotic ear drops
For a safe, genuine home remedy recommended by one of our physician assistants, view the link above. Vinegar naturally raises the pH of the ear back to its normal acidity, and it also kills mild bacteria and fungus that can develop after swimming. People can mix 50/50 white vinegar and water or rubbing alcohol in a dropper bottle labeled “Swim Ear Drops.” Put a few drops in right after swimming to help prevent infections from forming.
Here are some other helpful tips for preventing Swimmer’s ear:
- Keep ears as dry as possible
- It’s important to use a bathing cap, ear plugs, or custom-fitted swim molds while swimming.
- Dry ears thoroughly after swimming or showering
- Check with your healthcare provider about using ear-drying drops after swimming
- Do NOT use these drops if you’ve already been told you have Swimmer’s ear.
- Do NOT put objects in the ear canal
- This includes, but is not limited to:
- Q-tip cotton swabs
- Paper clips
- This includes, but is not limited to:
- Do NOT try removing ear wax – ear wax helps protect the ear canal from infection
- If you think your ear canal could be blocked by wax buildup, check with your provider.
Alongside custom ear protection, we also offer professional wax cleanings here at the ENT Institute. It is common for wax to increasingly build up during the summer months due to sweating from the rise in temperatures. We encourage you not to remove wax from your ears on your own, but to come see the experts if you think there may be some sort of blockage or excess build up.
Follow these simple steps for protecting your ears, and you’re sure to have an amazing summer! If you have any questions or concerns about your own ears, please contact our providers. We are here to help!
Interested in learning more about our services or looking to schedule an appointment?
Call us today or visit our website at www.entinstitute.com.
Hearing Center: (678) 347-2123 ENT Institute: (770) 740-1860
“Ear Infections.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Apr. 2022.
Arash. “How Earplugs Work: Best Practices for Use.” House of Hearing Clinic, House of Hearing , 23 May 2022.