As life has returned to a new normal, music goers have reveled in the chance to once again enjoy live music with the throngs of fellow fans. Concerts and music festivals have been an exciting and interactive way to hear our favorite music for generations but unfortunately, loud concert sounds can cause some problems with our hearing. From tinnitus to noise-induced hearing loss, the level of sound at an average concert can cause temporary issues and even permanent damage with repeated exposure. So what can you do to help treat or prevent temporary tinnitus or chronic tinnitus from loud noise after a concert?

What Is Tinnitus?

Temporary or permanent tinnitus is characterized by ringing or buzzing sounds in one or both ears. This ringing can sometimes accompany an increase in hearing loss. While these symptoms are both frustrating and irritating, they can also be painful when ringing creates hypersensitivity to external sounds. Beyond the pain, tinnitus can also cause a heightened stress level as the buzzing noise isn’t caused by any real factor in the environment and others cannot hear it. Luckily, there are some ways to help lessen the effects of this condition and prevent tinnitus symptoms.

In some cases, you may experience tinnitus in a pulsing pattern as opposed to a constant noise in the ear canal. This pulse often syncs in time with your heartbeat. In this rare case, a doctor may be able to hear the ringing during an examination of the ear. Typically, medical professionals will diagnose tinnitus based on your combination of symptoms.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Maybe you’ve noticed even a day after, your ears ringing after concerts. Perhaps your latest gig has left an annoying hissing noise reverberating through your head. Especially if you’ve recently been exposed to acute loud noises, these symptoms may signal a case of tinnitus. Common symptoms may include a variety of sounds, from whooshing or whirring to clicking or humming. The key is the sound is persistent and only audible to you.

Causes of Tinnitus

Chronic tinnitus, or even just a temporary case that goes away in a few hours or couple of days, can have a range of causes however in most cases, an exact cause is difficult to pinpoint. Some common causes include exposure to some medications (which thankfully is often reversed if the medication can be changed or stopped), ear infection or ear obstruction, head or neck injury, or some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be both a cause of tinnitus and an accompanying symptom. Less common causes of tinnitus may include ear bone changes, eustachian tube dysfunction, muscle spasms in the inner ear, or some blood vessel disorders. A medical professional specializing in hearing health can help determine what may have caused tinnitus symptoms.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

One of the most common causes of tinnitus is sudden or continued exposure to unsafe noise levels, including loud music. There are tiny and delicate hairs inside your inner ear (cochlea) that can be affected by loud noise and begin sending random electrical impulses to your brain. This can cause noise-induced hearing loss and ringing in the ear symptoms. But what noise level is unsafe? Well, sound volume is calculated using a method of measurement called decibels. A normal conversation with a friend will come in at about 60 decibels. A rock concert typically puts out about 120 decibels. Hearing experts have found that prolonged exposure to loud sounds over 70 decibels can cause long-term hearing loss over time and sudden sounds over 120 decibels can have immediate effects on normal hearing.

This noise-induced form of tinnitus is often caused by exposure to environmental sounds above the healthy decibel level. While the occasional concert at unsafe noise levels might have your ears ringing for a couple of hours, a live music aficionado attending all kinds of concerts regularly might experience constant ringing and some serious damage to their ears after prolonged exposure. A case of concert tinnitus is the last thing any concert aficionado wants.

Preventable Hearing Loss

While there may not be a total medical cure for hearing loss, there are ways you can reduce your risk for tinnitus when you know you’ll be exposed to constant sound at a high decibel at a loud event for an extended period. Prepare ahead when entering a risky sound environment and take a proactive role in using ear protection or ear plugs and keeping your ears safe from loud sounds. Here are some tips to prevent hearing loss:

  • Hearing Protection: If you attend concerts regularly or work in a noisy environment, invest in some custom earplugs or noise-canceling headgear to prevent hearing damage. While sounds might still be above the safe decibel level, you can protect your ears from the impact and lessen the intensity of noise. This allows you to still enjoy your favorite activities without suffering some of the negative consequences, including permanent hearing loss.
  • Ear and Hearing Care: Just like any other part of the body, the ears should be regularly checked by a healthcare professional. Get regular hearing tests and hearing screening to maintain your hearing health and help to catch the risk of tinnitus before it becomes chronic.
  • Reduce Strain: Outside those exciting rock concert moments, reduce the strain on your ears during everyday life. When listening to the radio or tv, try avoiding louder sounds like watching or listening at the maximum volume. Give those sensitive cochlear cells a break by listening to soft music or lower-volume television. If struggling to make out quieter sounds, invest in hearing aids if your doctor prescribes them. These hearing devices will make hearing every day sound easier for your ears without having to strain during a conversation.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Believe it or not, healthy blood flow in the body can help to prevent or reduce tinnitus. Promote the blood flow your body needs by getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol and drug use, and eating a balanced diet.

How to Treat Tinnitus

How can you make the ringing stop? This will all depend on the cause of your tinnitus and the severity. Read on for more specific guidance, pertinent to specific causes of tinnitus.

Temporary Tinnitus

  • Wait It Out: In most cases, ringing in the ears after a sudden exposure to loud noise will go away on its own within a few hours or days. The intensity of the noise and the duration of exposure will most likely determine the period of time it takes for the ears to stop ringing.
  • Stay Quiet: Give your ears a break. After intense noise exposure, your inner ear is trying to recover and heal. Make sure you keep to a low-decibel environment for a while and if need be, use hearing protection such as noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
  • See a Doctor: If your tinnitus symptoms don’t seem to be getting any better, make sure to give your hearing health professional a call.

 Chronic Tinnitus

  • Hearing Aids: Some tinnitus symptoms are made worse by ear strain. Hearing aids for hearing loss or issues can lessen the strain and reduce symptoms.
  • Masking Aids: In addition to amplifying sound, some hearing aids have improved features with noise-masking abilities. They can block out ambient noise in the environment and help to lessen inner ear ringing.
  • White Noise: While not a treatment, white noise can help reduce the symptoms of tinnitus. White noise can help with sleep quality and reduce the severity of ringing. Ensure white noise is at a lower volume to reduce more risk of further damage.

While there might not be a total cure for tinnitus, there are ways you can help to prevent ear damage and reduce the symptoms of tinnitus if and when they do occur. An ounce of prevention is often better than a pound of cure and this can apply to tinnitus too. Enjoy those concerts with care and avoid pesky and sometimes chronic ear ringing and other tinnitus symptoms.