Summer Concerts: An Ear, Nose and Throat NightmareSummer and outdoor concerts go together like peanut butter and jelly. While you may have rushed the stage and stood next to the speaker when you were younger, you are now older and wiser. You know the dangers that concerts pose, and you understand that there are things you can do to protect yourself.
Protect Your EarsGetting seats close to the stage may seem like a once in a lifetime experience. Being that close means you can literally feel the bass from the amps. But did you know that loud music can actually harm your hearing? This is called noise-induced hearing loss. Anything over 85 dB can damage the intricate inner workings of your ear.
Let’s put that into perspective: a normal conversation clocks in at about 60 dB, traffic in Houston can be about 85 dB and the sirens on an emergency vehicle can reach 120 dB. Now, just to be clear, a police car zooming past you on the freeway won’t damage your hearing. Noise induced hearing loss only happens when something is incredibly loud, such as an explosion, or you are exposed to any sound over 85 dB for an extended period of time. Sounds like a concert to me.
The good news is there is an easy solution. Earplugs! Seems almost too simple. There are a wide variety of earplugs; some you can purchase cheaply from a pharmacy (which will do the trick in a pinch) and there are others that can be molded to exactly fit into your ear. These molds work to block out the dangerous sounds but don’t distort the music (these would be recommended if you attend a lot of shows).
Protect Your NoseWhile most concert venues you will visit these days are smoke-free, there are still some that are not. Those that are smoke-free usually have a smoking section right outside the front door. New studies have come out that show that even secondhand smoke can pose some serious health risks.
A study conducted in 2010 found that nearly 40 percent of all individuals who suffered from chronic sinusitis were exposed to secondhand smoke. Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. This can lead to facial pain/pressure, nasal stuffiness, nasal discharge, cough/congestion and a fever.
The only way to truly prevent secondhand smoke exposure is to check with the venue before you purchase your tickets. Confirm that they are indeed smoke-free and where the smoking section is located outside, it should be at least 25 feet from the entrance.
Protect Your ThroatThere is nothing quite like singing along at the top of your lungs to your favorite song. Unfortunately, singing loudly for an extended period of time can actually damage your vocal cords.
Speaking requires several muscle groups to work at once. Like any other activity, excessive use or misuse can cause injury. Excessively loud and prolonged voice use as well as excessive use of the neck muscles can lead to vocal fatigue, increased vocal effort and hoarseness. These can put you at risk for developing benign vocal cord lesions or a vocal cord hemorrhage.
How do you prevent this from happening? Stop misusing your vocal cords, i.e. stop signing along at the top of your lungs. If you must sing, make sure you are drinking lots of water before and afterward. This keeps your vocal cords hydrated and helps prevent lesions from developing.
If you attended the concert and just got too swept up in the music to follow our advice—that’s okay. Just contact your local Houston ear, nose and throat doctor to schedule an appointment.