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Are You Ready For Game Day? Hearing Loss and Sports

Iowa Hawkeyes Kinnick StadiumNo matter what your favorite sport is, you know the sound of a roaring crowd cheering on your favorite team, and the camaraderie and enthusiasm that go with it. Many consider the noise that fans make at sporting events, especially when playing at home, an essential part of the game. As home-team fans, we collectively get noisy to intimidate the opposing team during critical moments like free throws, field goals, and when an opposing hitter is at-bat. On average, screaming fans can cause anywhere from 100dB to 140dB of sound1; above the range in which noise levels can cause hearing damage.

Repeated exposure to these decibel levels can harm the fans’, players’, coaches’, and referees’ hearing health. It is a little-considered cause of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Recently, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) collaborated with several university researchers to measure pressure levels of different referee whistles at the National Hearing Conservation Association. The study found that the sports officials’ whistles can produce sound between 100dB to 120dB2. That’s quite a bit of noise, considering that whistles are blown about 85 times a game during an N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament3.

What can sports enthusiasts do to protect their hearing?

Sports fans can use hearing protection while at the game to reduce the roar of the crowd, while still being able to hear the game. Concept Owner and President, Taylor Parker, recommends ” anything from the basic foam inserts you can buy over the counter to full custom ear plugs. Our custom versions range in price from $50 to $400.” Much like going to a loud rock concert or being a musician, as a sports fan, you need to take some extra precautions to protect your hearing.

Be proactive about your hearing health. Get your complimentary baseline hearing screening done at your local Concept clinic once a year so you can monitor your hearing for changes, and talk to your primary care physician if you think you are experiencing hearing loss. NIHL is progressive, as you are exposed to dangerous levels of sound over time, so it’s important to catch the damage early to preserve your hearing.

Having trouble hearing the game through the noise?

For those who already have a hearing loss, many have trouble hearing the game through the roar of the crowd. All Concept hearing aids are programmable and can be adjusted for a variety of listening environments. If you already have Concept hearing aids, talk to your Audiologist or Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist about adding a setting for situations with a lot of background noise. As part of Concept’s lifetime aftercare program, you can visit your clinic and have your hearing aids adjusted as often as you need, at no additional cost to you, until you get the right balance. Our experts can also help you determine which hearing aid is best for you based on the listening environments you find yourself in the most.




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