Prevent Further Damage to Your Ears — Have a Protection Plan

Discussion in 'Support' started by Samzen, Feb 14, 2016.

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    1. Samzen

      Samzen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2012
      This is a bit long, you can skim through it or read it all. I wrote this after my tinnitus got worse last Sept. 2015.
      This is my way of wanting to help and educate people who have gotten tinnitus through acoustic trauma. Please take care of your ears to do this you need a really good protection plan.

      Preventing further damage to your ears

      A bit of history

      I developed moderate tinnitus in 2012 after playing some live music in my garage. I've been playing music for years but not very loud and using protection. But this particular day I played with someone I had never played with and he played very loud. I also was trying some new ear plugs that were designed differently the results were not good and I developed moderate tinnitus. I had a very mild form of it in my right ear already that I got as a young boy at the age of 12.One day when walking home from school a kid thought it was funny to put a pistol gun that fired blanks in my right ear and fire it. I noticed a tiny little ringing in that ear that I could only hear at night when I went to bed. Since then my right ear was always sensitive to loud music or noise. After the incident in 2012 my right ear took on more damage and I developed it in my left ear which I hadn't had before.

      Faulty plan

      I knew I had to protect my ears better from then on so I quit playing the electric guitar and jamming. I wore ear plugs anytime there was something loud going on. I had habituated to my tinnitus and I got on with my life. I tried not to live in fear and did most things people do. My protection plan was simple wear earplugs at loud events and double up with ear muffs when doing yard work at home, that's it. However this plan failed to work it just wasn't solid enough and as a result I've suffered two increases of volume with my tinnitus. Both setbacks took place at social events where there was an amplified sound system. The first setback was when I attended a good friend's wedding. I was hesitant but I went anyway after all I had my ear plugs. The second setback came when I was invited to a place where I didn't know there would be amplified music there and once again I relied on my ear plugs and just HOPED that my ears wouldn't get worse. Well now my tinnitus is louder and louder tinnitus is no fun believe me. After my last setback it finally clicked, I had to get serious. I realized that my protection plan was faulty, not solid but full of holes. I relied on simple over the counter ear plugs to protect me from very high sound levels and they failed. I relied on hope that my ears wouldn't get worse instead of following strict guidelines of sound levels. Overall not a good plan. I told myself I would never make these mistakes again really can't afford to and that I would share my experience with others and come up with a solid protection plan to avoid any more damage to my ears. I am not an expert on ear protection just someone who has had damage to their ears and is sharing information that I think is helpful to others that are in my situation. It's very important to have a solid protection plan if you have tinnitus that was caused by noise trauma because in many cases it can get worse. I can testify to that. It's our job to know what is loud and what is too loud for us our health and quality of life depends on it.

      Educate yourself

      There are things one needs to know to avoid worsening ones tinnitus. Having and knowing the guidelines and following them strictly as like with any other medical condition is critical to avoid further injury. You have to take the guesswork out of the equation and apply simple common sense to keep yourself protected from further injury. You cannot just do something loud or go somewhere where there is loud noise or music and HOPE that it doesn’t affect you. This is the wrong approach and one that could lead to more damage to your ears. Knowing what the harmful levels of sound are is key to protecting yourself. General guidelines are already in place that map out dangerous sound levels familiarize yourself with these and know when you may be in harms way.

      Keep in mind that while guidelines are in place we are all different and that your threshold of harmful levels may differ from the general public's. But it’s good to know what the general standards are and go from there.

      Here are some guidelines you should get to know

      Harmful levels for normal ears start at 80 to 85 decibels for prolonged periods. Though levels can be lower for people with already damaged ears. Decibel levels can reach very high in Clubs, bars and dances anywhere from 90-105. And depending where you are located and how long you stay can have negative consequences even with protection. I believe it's better to sacrifice going to a party, concert or other event where there will be very loud noise or music than to chance damaging your ear further. Especially considering that earplugs don't always do the job against a pair of 200 - 400 watt speakers.

      Know your loud

      Someone whose ears are sensitive and have already been damaged are susceptible to further damage. I say this from my direct experience. So careful attention to decibel levels must be applied. Since all our ears are a little different you should know what's too loud for you. You can do this several ways one is using a decibel meter turn on your radio and turn up the volume slowly using some kind of remote preferably so you're not too close to the speaker use ear plugs or ear muffs during this experiment to be safe also. Then listen as you turn up the volume, check the decibel meter for the number and remove your ear plugs or muffs and see what feels too loud for you. What is too loud for you may not be too loud for me and so on. Loud for me is around 70 db. In this case I would use ear plugs since it's only moderately loud. But like I've stated earlier at super high decibel levels ear plugs aren't enough and have proven unsafe for me. So I plan to avoid very loud situations entirely from now on.

      Make technology your friend. With the use of smart phones it’s easy to download a decibel reader app to your phone, they're free. If you don’t have a smart phone you can purchase a decibel reader easily online. Having a simple tool like a decibel reader and utilizing it gets you into the practice of knowing your surroundings and knowing when something may be unsafe for you plus it only takes a couple of seconds to use. This is what I meant by taking the guesswork out of the equation because as with any medical condition a comprehensive approach is necessary to avoid further damage or injury. If you are in a situation where you don't have a way of measuring the decibel level a warning sign can be if you have difficulty talking or hearing others talk over the sound. When this occurs leave the area. Or if you just feel that the noise is uncomfortably loud put in ear plugs to be safe or just leave. It's ok to be cautious, it's good practice to be safe than sorry.

      Ear protection

      Ear protection is a good tool to use to avoid more damage to your ears, ear plugs, ear muffs are the most common. I have found that the ear plugs commonly sold in stores are not the highest quality and are not the best protection in all situations. Situations where there is very loud music is one example where ear plugs may not be enough. Amplified music when played loudly can still harm your ears with ear plugs one of the reasons for this is the lower bass frequencies. Lower frequencies can penetrate and rattle walls if they can do this imagine what they will do to a little piece of foam in your ear. So don't rely on simple ear plugs alone to protect you from everything. They're ok in moderately loud situations but not for really loud environments where the decibel reading can get pretty high. Again having some way to measure the decibel levels is a good idea so you're not simply hoping and guessing that the sound levels aren't going to harm you. Honestly avoiding really loud situations is the best thing to do because ear plugs alone are not enough protection sometimes. Again I personally wouldn't recommend being around sound levels above 90 decibels even with ear plugs especially for long periods.

      Good Practice

      Here are some tips to protecting your ears.

      Always carry ear plugs with you because you never know what you might run into when you're out and about. I put a set on my keys so they're always there if I need them.

      Use your fingers to plug your ears in instances where you don't have time to get your ear plugs out.

      Move away from loud sound or noise

      Download a decibel reader on your smart phone or buy one so you can measure decibel levels to know if you're in the safe or danger zone. Better safe than sorry I say. Plus it's just good practice to understand decibel guidelines for safety.

      Avoid really loud situations ie rock concerts, clubs, dances etc where the music or sound is very high because simple ear plugs are not always reliable for those situations. Keep to moderately loud situations and wear ear protection.

      If you have to do something that is very loud double up on your ear protection wear ear plugs and ear muffs and limit your exposure time.

      Get the best earplugs and earmuffs you can buy, it's a worthy investment.

      Measuring the decibel levels of your activities gives you numbers to use when figuring for your protection with ear plugs and ear muffs. Though the numbers may not be exact you get an idea of the exposure level you are dealing with.

      The unexpected

      Of course no plan is 100% perfect there will always be those unexpected situations where things happen where we have no control. A door slamming, a baby screaming near you, something crashing on the ground etc. There is nothing we can do about these things and we should do our best not to panic when they do. My experience is that these short burst of loud noise have little effect on our ears. We must focus on those things we can control.

      Conclusion

      I'm not an expert on tinnitus, ears or sound levels. I can only speak from my direct experience as somebody with noise induced tinnitus and how exposure to loud volumes of sound have affected me. It's merely my aim to share my experience and what I've learned in hope that it could help somebody avoid some of the mistakes I've made. This is just my approach to developing a solid protection plan based on experience and technology. Whether you agree with this plan or not develop your own solid protection plan and stick to it no matter what. It's important to take your tinnitus very seriously because it can get worse if you are not careful.
       
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    2. object16
      Magical

      object16 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      1988
      that is also my plan, i have to avoid any further damage. mind you, i have already been trying to do that for 30+ yrs, and always my plan gets derailed.
       
    3. Samzen

      Samzen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2012
      My post is exactly about having a serious comprehensive plan in place that you stick to so you don't end up with louder tinnitus. Tinnitus is no joke and getting severe tinnitus is a lot different than mild tinnitus believe me. I'm no longer attending parties, concerts etc that have big amplified speakers. There's just that chance that the music is too loud or you stay too long or something else goes wrong. Nothing is worth getting permanent damage over a few hours of fun at a loud event.
       
    4. Bobby B
      Fine

      Bobby B Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      long term NIHL and recent acoustic trauma
      Totally agreed , excellent post

      What I found out is that earplugs give a false sense of security - I got t in the past wearing good nr plugs at noisy clubs maybe becuase i stayed longer. In reality even plugs alone at 33nr aren't the solution if it's too noisy for a long time - once you get damaged ears the threshold level to get further damage goes down considerably

      I now mostly wear earmuffs outside at all times, plugs hurt my ear canal after a while and muffs let my ear Breathe better.
      I live in a noisy city and you never know when the next sirene, loud bike or trucks , slamming sound or loud announcement etc will come so with my muffs I don't have to worry to much about this

      Another item to add to the protection plan is to take NAC and L-Carnitine , hydrogen etc.. On a regular basis - those Powerful anti oxidants can protect the ear from acoustic trauma damage as well
       
    5. Radiohead
      Fine

      Radiohead Member

      Location:
      Utrecht
      Tinnitus Since:
      6-21-2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      "In reality even plugs alone at 33nr aren't the solution if it's too noisy for a long time - once you get damaged ears the threshold level to get further damage goes down considerably."

      I was wondering if you could back this up or is it just personal experience? I havent gone to anything loud since hearing tinnitus in june 2015. I'm always wondering if I'm overreacting or if I'm doing the right thing. I know many people with tinnitus who keep going to all kinds of events and I've never heard that their tinnitus has gone up.
       
    6. Bertman
      No Mood

      Bertman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      concert
      Personally, I don't think any further damage is done to the ears if you're in a reasonably noisy place wearing earplugs (extremely loud bars/clubs, concerts might be an exception), but since we have tinnitus already, our ears and brain don't process the noise correctly (too sensitive maybe) and can still make our T louder. So louder tinnitus =/= damage necessarily. The thing is though we don't want to risk getting louder tinnitus so I agree a good protection plan is necessary. Thats all just my opinion though.
       
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    7. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      Nobody really knows, so you have to follow your own path. The main issue I have with avoiding all loud situations, forever,(from a personal point of view) is that it doesn't take certain professions into consideration.

      It is very easy for someone to say you need to avoid loud events, especially if they were never really a part of your life anyway. It's easy and simple to eliminate. Kind of like giving up smoking or something similar.

      If you are a musician however, or a sound engineer; a conductor; a band leader; an actor, or a car enthusiast etc, then it's no longer that simple. Many of us have built a life around professions that expose us to noise, we can't just abandon our passions. It's easy to sit there and advise people to never do it again, especially if its something that doesn't really have an impact on your life. For many here, it's a fate worse than death.

      Like anything in life we have to enforce moderation and precaution. Ear plugs exist for these purposes, so there really is no reason to quit doing the things you love, especially if it would have a detrimental effect on your quality of life.

      Painting things in such a black and white way doesn't help people who find themselves under these circumstances. Flippantly saying that the only way forward is to stop doing these things is only good advice for certain people. For others it means losing your job, your joy in life and a very steep fall into a deep depression.

      We all have to make our own call on the best approach. We are all different and are coming at this from different mindsets. I would say using earplugs and changing certain behaviours (staying away from speakers, control of volume and exposure length etc) would allow you to carry on doing these things. Your skull takes around 40db off the sound, so bone conduction is unlikely to be a problem.

      I'd say the best advice is to do what makes you happy, because that is what life is all about afterall. It is probably the one goal that we all have in common, so if avoiding all loud situations forever makes you happy, then it's the perfect solution.
       
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    8. Samzen

      Samzen Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2012
      My personal experience has been a raise in volume of my tinnitus even while using the basic foam 32db earplugs. Both times this happened I was at a event with a PA system. One was a wedding and the other was a birthday party where a band was playing. Both of these events were simply too loud and I stayed too long. At these times I just didn't have a good enough understanding of what I was getting myself into. Those of us with tinnitus need to know what is safe and what is not. Simply rolling the dice is foolish and could result in devastating consequences. My last increase in volume has been just that. It almost took me out. I used to have moderate tinnitus that I habituated to and was a non issue but now I have severe tinnitus and it is seriously difficult.

      If I had to do it all again I would of just avoided anything where it's pretty loud even with earplugs. Nothing is worth what I'm going through now. Unless you know exactly what your doing and know how loud things are and if your protection is adequate I'd stay away from LOUD.
       

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