If you are experiencing temporary ringing of the ears due to a romp at a loud club or concert venue, consider yourself lucky. You heard correctly, it’s a good position to be in. Temporary tinnitus can be thought of as a warning sign that you were too hard on your ears. If you keep up the abuse it may lead to a permanent case of tinnitus, and it may happen faster than you think.
Of course there are other causes that don’t have to do with noise exposure such as stress, jaw misalignment or an ear infection; however, here the focus is on ringing due to noise.
Not your Momma’s Ear Plugs
Most people don’t want to compromise their lifestyle in order to protect their ears. Folks in their twenties especially completely disregard hearing protection. Still, the best solution is always prevention and with new advancements it isn’t burdensome at all. If you are attending a loud event, bring some hi-fi ear plugs with you. Even if you only wear the plugs during the less exciting portions of the show, you are still giving your ears a rest and it’s definitely better than nothing.
When people think of ear plugs they picture the cheap, disposable foam plugs so commonly found at the drug store. While this type works in a pinch, inexpensive ear plugs that last far longer and don’t muffle the sound are a much better option. When wearing Etymotic Research’s ER-20 High Fidelity ear plugs, everything around you sounds crisp and clear, just not as loud. Every music-lover should own at least a few pairs as you’re bound to lose a set at some point. If you do, it’s not a big deal because a pair costs just $12.
NAC before the Noise
Animal studies confirm that ingesting an anti-oxidant called N-acetylcysteine or NAC prevents hearing loss and therefore tinnitus. The U.S. Army and Navy are currently doing clinical trials to find if it’s as effective in humans.
If you’re a real skeptic you might want to wait for the conclusive evidence. For the rest of us, since N-acetylcysteine is terrific for the body in many more ways than to prevent hearing loss, taking a supplement seems like a no-brainer.
For the best results, take a standard dosage of NAC right before you go out to a loud event. This prevents damage to the tiny hairs in the ear from ever happening in the first place and temporarily makes the hairs more resilient. If you forget to take it before exposure, the next best thing is to take it right after you get home.
Allow for Recovery Time the Next Day
The Motörhead concert was unbelievable. Unfortunately your head feels like it’s been smashed to smithereens by Lemmy and the ringing is driving you up the wall.
Designate the next day after a loud event as a “quiet day.” Since most hearing loss occurs because of repeat exposure, you can reduce the damage by avoiding more loud sounds. Whatever you do, don’t decide to mow the lawn at the crack of dawn.
This is where a hangover can actually be useful. People tend to oversleep after a long night of partying so as a side-effect the ears have some to recover too.
If you are experiencing temporary tinnitus you’re doing something wrong. Consider how much loud sounds you’ve been exposed to throughout the week. Cut it down by lowering the volume on your stereo, wearing ear plugs or listening for shorter periods of time. With a little luck and conscious effort you will prevent that temporary buzz from staying with you for life.
Photo: Chris Thomson