How To Enjoy A Concert Safely When You Have Hearing Loss

Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to go to a concert? I have two extra tickets. To Adele. Do you and your daughter want to come?  [sing this to Adele’s “Hello”]

I rarely go to concerts — I am afraid to damage my hearing any more than it already is. But when my sister invited my daughter and me to the Adele concert in Madison Square Garden, the look on my daughter’s face said it all. We had to go. It was my job to make sure we could enjoy the concert safely.

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I started doing my research so I could bring ear protection for everyone — my sister, my niece, my daughter, and of course, myself.

I was probably the easiest one to protect. I already have hearing aids that can be shut off, custom fit earplugs that I use for snorkeling and ear muffs with a noise canceling feature. Some subset or all of the above would keep my ears safe under almost all conditions. For the kids, I brought child-size earmuffs and for my sister, high fidelity earplugs that were recommended online.

But would they wear them? My daughter was the easiest to convince. In fact, she really had no option. No earmuffs, no concert. Still, I was very proud of her attitude about wearing them (no arguments) and that she acted as a positive role model for her younger cousin. My sister, of course, wore hers with no complaint. She attends a lot of concerts and given my hearing loss understands the importance of hearing protection.

Here we are enjoying the concert with our earmuffs!

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The concert itself was wonderful — Adele was in full voice and as concerts go, it was fairly tame. However, it was still very loud — 100 decibels at times. Our respective ear protections (rated at 20-30 decibels) kept our ears safe.

Surprisingly, Adele discussed hearing protection at the concert. During the show, she often interacted with the audience, and at one point spoke with a 5-year-old boy and his parents. She complimented the boy for wearing earmuffs to protect his ears and mentioned to the audience how important it is to protect their hearing.

I was thrilled Adele chose to reinforce this important message for the audience. I wish more recording artists would do the same.

After the concert, no one in our group complained of ringing ears or other hearing issues. All around a great success!

How can you stay safe at a concert? Follow these simple steps.

1. Know the facts. Research shows that wearing earplugs at concerts can help protect your hearing. A recent study of concertgoers showed that those who wore earplugs had significantly lower incidences of temporary hearing loss and tinnitus after the concert.

2. Ask your audiologist. They may have recommendations that are specific to your type of hearing aids or hearing loss. If you attend concerts frequently, consider investing in a custom fit option.

3. Experiment before you go. Before attending any event, try out different types of hearing protection to see which feels more comfortable to wear, both with and without your hearing aids. This saves you time and effort from experimenting at the event itself, and assures satisfactory hearing protection during the entire concert.

4. Learn to use them properly. Explore online guides such as It’s A Noisy Planet, a campaign sponsored by the National Institutes for Health (NIH), for proper instructions on using standard foam earplugs.

5. Bring extras. Offer earplugs to family and friends and those seated near you. Unfortunately earplugs are not often sold at concerts so the people around you might be very grateful for the protection. Plus, it is a wonderful way to build awareness for the importance of hearing preservation.

Readers, do you know how to protect your hearing at a concert?

A version of this article was originally published in The Hearing Journal. Reproduced with their permission.   

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22 thoughts on “How To Enjoy A Concert Safely When You Have Hearing Loss

  1. Ok so… I used to go to a lot of concerts. Never wore ear protection. Because who does when they’re young, right? But I recently went to a show with one of my girlfriends and OH MY GOD WAS IT LOUD!!! I felt like I was showing my age because I kept plugging my ears!!!

    Next concert? Ear plugs or muffs.

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  2. Great lesson in being proactive and still being part of the fun. So glad Adele spoke up!

    When we leave a concert with our ears ringing, we are relieved a day or two later when our hearing seems to restore to normal, not knowing that we may have actually done damage to the nerve fibers that will make it hard for us to hear in noise long term.”Hidden hearing loss” is a recent discovery that loud sounds can do permanent damage to our hearing wiring (not hair cells). Even when standard hearing tests (audiogram) appear normal, people with hidden hearing loss struggle to hear in noisy places.

    http://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2016/09/researchers-find-evidence-of-hidden-hearing-loss-in-college-age-human-subjects

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  3. My ears are ringing just from reading this post. We wear ear plugs when going to see car races. And for church, worship music is so loud, I just don’t show up until after they’re done. Very few people understand that just because we don’t hear well, we still don’t like loud.
    I understand car races being loud, but church music?

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  4. Yes, why does everything have to be so loud? We don’t get invited to many weddings but the last couple; we had to keep escaping the noise just to have conversations (outside of the venue) with people. This post is a public service and I am sharing this. Thank you!

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  5. is an important information, I never used ear plugs and I live in a very noisy city!! in Mexico City!! thank you for sharing this information

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  6. My 10 year old is HOH and we’re taking her to see Bruno Mars this September. I haven’t been to a concert since my late twenties well before my child was born. I was concerned what to do and how to protect her… not realizing my husband and I need to be protected as well! I clearly remember the concerts and clubs that left that dark NOISY SILENCE for hours afterwards. Never again without protection! We’ve all used protection at Monster Truck events too, but I did it more out of not liking the annoying pitches of the engines. Anyway, thank you!!

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