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    Old 02-15-2005, 09:25 PM   #1
    trumpy's Avatar
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    Question Concerts Post-Tinnitus and ear plugs

    I have tinnitus and my ears feel clogged from a middle-ear infection I had in December. I went to a motorcycle event on Saturday and I wore ear plugs. I can't tell if my tinnitus is worse than it was.

    My question is: Can you still have hearing damage while wearing ear plugs? I've been to over 50 concerts and I've worn ear plugs for about the last 20 of them. My ears used to ring after concerts but I thought that was normal. Once my left ear rang for nearly a week after a concert. I'm thinking of going to a concert in March, but I fear more damage.

    Does anyone have experience with this?

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    Old 02-17-2005, 10:05 PM   #2
    Chicago Sandy
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    Re: Concerts Post-Tinnitus and ear plugs

    Earplugs are like sunscreen: depending upon their NR rating, they lengthen the amount of time you can safely be exposed to noise; but decibel levels too loud for the the NR rating and/or too long exposure are like staying out in the midday sun too long or with too weak a sunscreen. They do not protect you from indefinitely long exposure to very loud sounds. Also, if they are not worn properly (i.e., they are not fully seated) they are far less protective than their NR rating would indicate.

    Use common sense; if you have weaker plugs than a 25 NRR (-25dB) and you are at a loud concert, position yourself as far from the speakers as you can. Take frequent breaks if you feel your ears starting to feel congested or abnormally sensitive, you start feeling your eardrum moving to loud bass (as opposed to just hearing it)--go to the concession stand, bathroom, or lobby; and switch to the strongest plugs you can. Ideally, -15s to -25s should give you adequate protection from moderately loud sounds for a reasonable length of time, but they're not absolutely protective. If you get tinnitus (or your usual tinnitus is intensified) that could be a danger sign--if it doesn't go away the next day, better get tested! Tinnitus can be a symptom of damaged hair cells in the inner ear which can only regenerate (if at all--scientists disagree if that's possible) if promptly treated with the right anti-inflammatory meds and supplements--within a few days of the exposure or infection.

    I rarely go to loud rock concerts anymore; if I do or have to be in a noisy club between sets at gigs I usually use my -25 filters and take frequent breaks; for moderate concerts, B'way shows and rehearsing with a band or orchestra, -15s; at an acoustic concert near the speakers, or onstage with nearby monitors, -9s. If you are frequently exposed to music and music is important to you, spend the money to get plugs custom-molded so they fit properly. Over-the-counter plugs you find in music stores rarely do; they either filter out too much across the board for you to hear clearly or not enough to protect you. And drink lots of water (not beer): it allows your inner ears to function properly and keep fluid levels balanced (preventing or alleviating tinnitus).

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