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by Jan L. Mayes, MSc, Audiologist

A recent article in the IRN Post warns of hearing difficulties caused by loud music exposure at concerts. It starts off well by identifying the 70 dB noise limit. But the discussion switches to ≥85 dB noise as the main danger, as if there was little risk of tinnitus and hearing loss from sound exposure below 85 dB.

Some other statements seem factual with a side of not factual. The worst example is their recommendation on wearing earplugs at concerts. This is followed by the writer’s personal example of hanging earplugs around their neck, but only wearing them if standing near the speakers.

There is noise damage risk whether you stand by a speaker or not, because loud sound waves fill the venue.

Earplugs are not necklaces.

They must be in the ears to seal out sound waves like swim goggles seal out water.

I have tinnitus. I use pre-molded high fidelity musician’s type earplugs or higher reduction foam earplugs, depending on the concert. Before pandemic shutdowns, I went to concerts at larger stadiums or halls as well as smaller venues at local clubs. I even saw my favorite metal band.

I start wearing my earplugs as soon as possible, e.g. once seated or before I venture near the mosh pit. I don’t take them out until after the end of the concert.

There is no excuse not to use hearing protection if you’re going to a concert. Options range from earplugs with keychain storage for under $20 to more expensive custom molded earplugs. There are also earmuffs for people who can’t use earplugs.

I recommend consulting an audiologist or hearing health care professional for guidance, especially if you’ve ever noticed tinnitus or muffled hearing after a concert.

And next time you go to a concert, don’t use earplugs as a necklace.

Hearing protection only works if it fits properly AND it is used the entire time you’re in loud environments.

Jan L. Mayes is an international Eric Hoffer Award winning author in Non-Fiction Health. She is also a science enthusiast and newly retired audiologist still specializing in noise, tinnitus-hyperacusis, and hearing health. You can read more of Jan’s work at her site, www.janlmayes.com.