Your love of sports may be damaging your hearing. Though attending live sporting events and going to a crowded bar to watch sports can be a great way to spend time with friends, let loose, and have fun, it can also put you at a greater risk of permanent hearing loss. Live sports can be loud enough to create noise-induced hearing issues, as can the noisy atmosphere in a bar and the TV volume at full blast.
1. Noise-induced hearing loss
Just as loud music can harm your hearing, so can loud sports. Any time that the noise around you gets louder than 85 decibels, you put yourself at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is common, with an estimated 26 million Americans aged 20 to 69 having some permanent hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises.
Your hearing can be damaged from a one-time event or after constant exposure. The loud noise may damage the inner ear’s hair cells, which transmit sound to the brain. This can lead to pain, tinnitus, and hearing loss. Once these cells are damaged, the hearing loss becomes permanent.
Sports are fun to watch, and the sounds are some of the best parts of the game—that quick slap shot, the body check in the boards, the sound of the ball bouncing on the court, or the final buzzer that tells the world your team has won the championship. If you don’t take steps to prevent hearing loss, you could end up missing the best parts of the game—and many of the other sounds in life.
2. The sports that are the most dangerous to your ears
Basketball is no doubt one of the fastest moving sports around. Though this does make it more exciting, it also means that the cheers from the stands are almost non-stop in the arena. KU basketball in particular is as a very loud crowd experience. The deafening noise can lead to hearing loss.
Football, however, takes the crown for the loudest sport. In fact, the Guinness world record for the loudest crowd at a sport stadium was achieved in 2014 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. As fans cheered for the Kansas City Chiefs with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter on September 29, the decibel level reached 14.2. dbA.
3. Tips to avoid ear damage while frequenting—or watching—sporting events
You don’t have to stay away from arenas and stadiums in order to protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss. All you have to do is bring your own hearing protection with you.
- When you’re watching live sports in an arena, make sure to wear noise-reducing earmuffs or earplugs to avoid ear damage. You can purchase simple earplugs at any drugstore on your way to the game. They can reduce the level of noise by as much as 35 decibels.
- Try not to stand or sit too close to the noise. Stand far away from the sound system. If things get too loud and rowdy, go take a walk in the hallway or outside to give your ears a break from constant exposure.
- If you’re watching a sporting event on TV or listening to one on the radio, turn the volume down. Even though having the volume turned up to full blast may make you feel like you’re closer to the action, it can be detrimental to your hearing.
Don’t be afraid to cheer for your favorite team, just make sure to protect your hearing first.
If you want to learn more about dealing with noise and how to protect your hearing, or if you suspect you have noise-induced hearing loss, schedule an appointment with Associated Audiologists. We offer custom hearing protection for a variety of activities.