Turns out, our parents were right!
Listening to loud music ruins our hearing. But how much exactly? And how does it all work? I’m sure we’ve all heard these little nuggets of wisdom from our parents growing up. Don’t sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind or don’t listen to loud music, you’ll go deaf. And while the first one might be bunk, it turns out - loud music can actually ruin your hearing.
According to research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), about 20% of the young teenagers and 50% of the adults between the age group of 19 to 35 are exposed to unsafe levels of sound either from personal or public audio devices. Additionally, 40% of the people in this age group suffer hazardous levels of sound at entertainment venues, including bars, dance clubs, concerts, and sporting events.
The data proves that listening to loud music can cause physical changes to our auditory nerves that can lead to hearing loss later in life. If not complete damage, it can leave you with difficulty in understanding speech, and that’s just the beginning.
But hey, you’ve been working the entire week and you surely wanna release some stress on a Saturday night. A night of clubbing with your friends is a great way to unwind and start your week with a relaxed state of mind. But at the same time, you don’t want to have fun at the cost of your ability to hear. What can possibly go wrong when you chill inside a room with booming music for a long period of time?
Loud music at clubs | What do most people experience?
While this isn’t something that you’d realize at the moment, but after leaving clubs or any musical event most people have been found complaining about one thing: Sharp, piercing ringing in the ears. Some who go out to a nightclub or party very often might get rid of it sooner. But those who have been out of practice for months admit that the ringing sensations tend to stay for more than 3-4 hours, sometimes overnight.
Some out there with an even more heightened sense of sensitivity can’t stand that loud music for like even 5 minutes. All they end up with is some ringing noise inside their heads and a sleepless night. Well, that’s not a fun night, is it?
So coming home with ringing ears after a night of clubbing is nothing new.
How does this loud music or “noise” make your ears suffer?
Typically, when a person starts to experience hearing loss, one of the first things to go is their ability to understand speech – particularly in noisy situations. So studies related to the matter specifically look at the cellular mechanisms associated with hearing loss and tinnitus - which is a ringing of the ears - triggered by exposure to loud sounds. Some more research has shown that repeated exposure to loud sounds can cause our myelin - which is the material that coats all of our nerves, including our auditory nerves to wear down and become thinner.
So in a nutshell, it takes longer for sounds to reach your brain. I’m sure some of you reading this are seasoned concert-goers, so what do you guys think? Have you ever noticed your hearing getting worse over the years? Living in the 21st century, there are a lot more chances to mess up your hearing with really loud sounds.
Why wearing earplugs is the best option?
Dance floors at clubs and live music venues typically hover between 95 and 105 decibels. Exposure to noise levels of a maximum of 85 dB or below is medically recommended. A noise level of 100 dB or so is considered the intense level of sound one can hear, which when exists for 15 minutes or longer can create permanent hearing damage.
For some, it doesn’t even take that long. The CDC says that such a “high bass” environment can create hearing loss in as few as 5 minutes. Even one exposure can cause a temporary reduction in hearing. Neglecting early problems or further exposure over time can make you deaf. So you can’t simply walk out of there and you just can’t ask the DJ to keep it down.
So wearing earplugs is the best way to ensure you’re keeping your ears safe.
Every earplug you will find does the same job: to protect your ears by reducing the volume around you. But while you're at a club you do want to enjoy the music, talk to your friends or people as well as order drinks without pulling your earplugs out. If this is important to you, then you need something that won’t just block the sound entirely but will instead filter it.
So that brings our discussion to what features should we look into before purchasing a good pair of earplugs.
What makes a pair of earplugs great for clubbing?
For many, the most important feature that makes an earplug great for clubbing is sound quality. Generally, clubs have these enormously huge sound systems that blast out music. So you want that loud beat music to sound natural, with as little distortion as possible.
A cheap pair of over-the-counter earplugs cannot do justice to your ears. The most common type of earplugs most clubs offer is foam earplugs. They can protect you against dangerously high decibels by stuffing up the ear canal, creating air pockets that dampen sounds in the process.
This is the reason why serious club-goers have gravitated toward custom silicone earplugs. They are specifically molded to their anatomy or ear shape. These are capable of achieving extremely “flat” filters — as in, just as much treble as bass gets shut out. It's the sound as the artist intended, just a little quieter.
Another great advantage of this “filter” feature is that you can freely converse with people. When you hear a natural sound, your brain can easily distinguish voices and other sounds, thus you don’t need to shout anymore while talking.
Comfort is yet another thing you need to consider while wearing earplugs at the club. Wearing something that fits in perfectly and stays in place is important when you don’t wanna keep checking on it every now & then and dance like a maniac.
Remember, comfortable earplugs should have these things in common:
- Easy to insert/remove
- Stay Put and fits well
- Have a soft contact
You also need to give a closer look at your earplugs ear tip. This is the part of an earplug that sits directly in your ear canal and if not chosen correctly, can cause discomfort.
Your ears are as unique as your fingerprints. So a single type of ear tip is not meant for all. Look for brands that include multiple shape ear tips with their earplugs. Again the material is important as it's gonna stick inside your ears for a long. Find foam or silicone earplugs in varying sizes. You can follow the link to find the best-suggested earplugs available online.
A style suggestion: If you prefer wearing something that is as much transparent as it can be, you should go for discrete earplugs. Buying them means you are getting yourself some invisible pair of earplugs or probably a nude version of them. They are just slightly visible when someone’s directly facing you, but that’s okay.
There are numerous habits you can adopt for preventing hearing loss. Current research around earbud use suggests keeping your volume at 80% or less if you’ll be listening for more than 90 minutes throughout the day. Noise-isolating headphones can also help you listen to lower volumes.
Finally, wear earplugs whenever you’re knowingly exposing yourself to loud sounds for extended periods. So, in all, we can admit that earplugs are one of the coolest things you can wear at a club.
Note that its effectiveness depends on how well you’ve inserted it, so read the instructions well. When worn correctly, they can ensure you'll be able to hear your favorite band for many nights to come.