Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased and we’re making up for lost time, it’s time to remember that some summer activities come with a risk of damaging your hearing.
Loud, sudden noise is one of the easiest ways to damage your ears. Fireworks are a well-known source of temporary—and sometimes permanent—hearing damage. They can create sound at the 175-decibel level; damage to ears can be caused by anything over 120 decibels.
The farther away you are from an explosion, the better for your ears. And if you are responsible for a young child, be aware that a noise level that adults can handle may not be true for a youngster, since their ear canals are so much smaller (which will amplify the effects of a high-decibel incident).
The same dynamic holds true for car races, the firing of guns, power tools, and all the other loud things that are part of summer.
Getting in the water is a big part of summer too. The primary risk here is coming down with a case of swimmer’s ear—which is just a seasonal name for an ear infection—due to bacteria finding their way into tiny scrapes and scratches in the lining of your ear canal.
What’s a common way to cause such abrasions? Sticking things in your ear—fingers, swabs, towels—when trying to dry them out after swimming or sweating due to exercising.
So, try to just let your ears dry out on their own—tilting your head from side to side will help—or use drops or a hair dryer (on a low setting).
It’s good to be back out, but don’t forget to take care of your hearing.