Protect your hearing at Seattle’s Seafair
By Kristiina Huckabay, AuD, FAAA
Blue Angels! Cheering fans! Hydroplanes! Live music! Fireworks! Along with the excitement Seafair brings to Seattle, it also brings a lot of noise! The otolaryngologists and audiologists at Swedish Otolaryngology want you to enjoy these events, while protecting your precious hearing. The sound of a jet engine can be up to 120 dB at take-off and even 30 seconds of exposure to this sound can cause permanent noise damage (American Academy of Audiology website).
Here are some tips for protecting your hearing:
Wear hearing protection
High levels of noise can result in tinnitus in the hours and days following exposure to loud sounds. This ringing in the ears can be a sign of permanent damage from excessive noise exposure. Anything from large headphones to simple foam plugs are adequate for hearing protection. The jets will still be audible, but the dampening will protect your ears and reduce the likelihood of permanent ringing and/or hearing loss. Be sure to properly insert your hearing protection for maximum effectiveness.
Relax after the event
If you do find that you have ringing in your ears after watching the events, avoid loud noises for the rest of the day. Loud noises can further increase the volume of the tinnitus. Research also shows that fatigue and stress can increase the level of the tinnitus. Try relaxing after the event by taking a walk or listening to calming music at a low volume. These steps may minimize the tinnitus.
Did we mention, wear hearing protection?
Most of us know that noise exposure can cause permanent hearing loss. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, exposure to 100 dB of noise for more than 15 minutes can cause permanent hearing loss. Measurements of jet engines have been recorded at levels up to 120-140 decibels! So pack some earphones or protective headphones before heading out to the event. If you have children, protect their ears too! Your lasting memories of Seafair should be of the excitement of the day…not permanent hearing loss or tinnitus that may result from over exposure to noise.