A combined 160,000 people are set to descend upon Leeds and Reading this weekend for the annual festivals that have run concurrently since 1999. Whilst the festivals are a crucial aspect of British culture, attract a global audience base and are ultimately fantastic experiences, the harsh reality is that 320,000 ears are at risk of serious damage from exposure of loud noise. This brief article will detail how you, your friends or loved ones can get the most out of the festival experience whilst minimising the risk of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus (Trust me, they're both terrible!!)
Protecting Your Ears During Festival Season - Top 5 Tips
Buy Some Ear Defenders
I know what you're going to say; "Ear defenders? Aren't they what workers who dig holes in concrete wear? I'm not wearing them, they're too big and bulky!" I get it. I'd say exactly the same thing, the idea of wearing them to a concert sounds ridiculous!
Fortunately, technology and protection has improved drastically and we're now blessed with discrete silicon-based, in-ear plugs that will give you adequate protection whilst ensuring that you don't receive "weird looks" for wearing "bulky old school equipment". Foam ear plugs also work just as good, however, they are less discreet.
Our friends over at the British Tinnitus Association have a great range of concert made plugs, they can be found here.
Avoid the Front Row
Sure, being at the front row of your favourite artist can feel like a dream come true, but when you consider that the average concert reaches decibel levels of between 100 - 120, and being exposed to sounds over 110Dbs can cause hearing loss within two-minutes, being at the front, next to the speakers, can turn from a dream into a nightmare before your favourite song is even over.
Don't take the risk, put some distance between you and the speakers.
Take Regular Breaks
Over exposure to potentially damaging levels of sound for long periods of time can negatively affect the cells and membranes in the Cochlea, as well as overwork the tiny hair cells which are found in our ears. This over exposure can cause 'Noise Induced Hearing Loss' (NIHL) which can be temporary, but continued exposure can increase the chances of NIHL being permanent!
Professionals recommend taking frequent breaks to give your ears some much needed rest and reduce the overall risk of NIHL.
Limit Alcohol Intake
This one may be hard to comprehend. After all, alcohol and festivals are synonymous with each other!
However, a Dutch study found there was a correlation between increased alcohol intake and NIHL. This was in part due to the fact that alcohol numbs the senses and impairs judgement, so festival goers are less aware of the warning signs their ears are giving to them.
If reducing the amount of alcohol you consume during the festival weekend is a 'no go', purchasing some specialist earplugs (link above) should be a top priority, as the study also found that the use of earplugs reduced the risk of NIHL and Tinnitus significantly, even when alcohol was consumed.
Give Your Ears a Detox After
So, you've had the best weekend in ages, you listened to all of our tips and your hearing is intact; that's everything right? Not quite. The best thing you can do after a festival or concert is to go on a "Hearing Detox". It's recommended that you give your ears about 16 hours rest without any loud noises (such as music through headphones) to fully recover. My personal recommendation would be to lay on the sofa and watch a good series on Netflix!
There we have it, my Top 5 Tips to protect your hearing during the busy festival season, enjoy the music, be safe and keep on hearing the world around you!