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Sharp Health News

Say what? Protecting your ears at loud events

Nov. 13, 2015

Protecting your ears at loud events

The music pulses through the speakers as you dance and sing along with your favorite band at their live show. You scream for the winning touchdown as the football arena explodes with cheers and ear-splitting noise. Sound familiar?

Amid the noise and excitement of big events like these, you can sometimes forget to take care of your ears and voice. Dr. Michael Holtel and Dr. Michael Keefe, ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctors with Sharp Rees-Stealy, team up to share a few tips for protecting your ears and throat — your nose is in the clear for this one.

Avoid ear-itation
Ringing in the ears is a common side effect of any event with loud sounds. According to Dr. Holtel, that ringing and possible hearing loss can be permanent depending on the duration and volume of the event.

In order to protect your ears, Dr. Holtel recommends these precautions when heading to an event where you know sounds may head off the decibel meter:

  • Wear good-fitting ear plugs
  • Don’t sit right next to a speaker
  • If the volume is extremely loud, move to a quieter area
  • Take regular breaks from the main area of noise, such as walking out to the concession stand

Think of your throat
The other side effect of a rowdy weekend is losing your most valuable mode of communication — your voice. You may want to whisper at meetings, pop lozenges and clear your throat after a loud, late night, but Dr. Keefe says those voice protection tactics are pure myth.

“Making sure you rest your voice completely is very important,” says Dr. Keefe. “Many people think whispering and throat clearing are helpful when in reality both actually tense the vocal cords.”

According to Dr. Keefe, other ways you can nurse your vocal cords back to health include:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Limiting caffeine, alcohol and throat clearing
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen to decrease inflammation

But how do you protect your voice before an expected loud event?

Dr. Keefe suggests these easy prevention tips:

  • Try not to yell or sing loudly above your comfortable voice level — leave the high notes to the professionals
  • Make sure you are well-hydrated with non-alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid excessive caffeine, as that can dry out your vocal cords 
  • Limit yelling or heavy voice use for an extended period of time

“If you know you will be singing along, make sure to warm up your voice a little on the way over by humming or singing at a normal voice,” says Dr. Keefe. “The sprinter never goes full speed without a warm-up, and neither should your vocal cords.”

Whether you attend a concert, a sporting event or just a typical holiday with your family, consider these tips to get through it with your ears and voice undamaged.

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