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The physicians at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates want you to know about a major risk factor for hearing loss; it has to do with a popular autumn pastime for many Americans—the danger of stadium noise at sports arenas.

As it turns out, six minutes in a sports arena can expose you to 81 times the daily limit of healthy noise exposure.

The crowd noise at NFL games currently averages between 80 and 90 decibels, and is even louder during exciting moments of the game.  A soccer match at the U.S. Bank Stadium recently reached over 105 decibels. For Seattle Seahawk fans, a game in 2013 at the CenturyLink Stadium set the Guinness World Record for crowd noise — their cheers reached 137.6 decibels. This is about the same sound level you would experience if you stood 150 feet from a jet engine during takeoff! After one to fifteen minutes after exposure to sound over 100 decibels, hearing damage is possible.

For everyone’s hearing health, this is really bad news; and if the fans are at risk, just think about the players.

To make matters worse—for possible hearing damage, that is—the newer stadiums are being designed to amplify crowd noise, because louder cheering is perceived as exciting for fans and motivation and inspiration for the players on the field.

Without appropriate ear protection, exposure to noise levels of 85 decibels for eight straight hours can lead to damage of the hair cells of the inner ear, which leads to possible temporary hearing loss.  Eventually, this can lead to permanent hearing loss with repetitive exposure, like for season ticket holders.

Without hearing protection, people who go to a lot of games are at significant risk for noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus. These effects are cumulative, so even minor inflictions on your hearing can build up over time and contribute to noise-induced hearing loss.

For frequent fans (not to mention players, coaches, and employees working at games!), the best solution is the use of earplugs. For only a few dollars, earplugs can lower sound levels by 20-30 decibels while still allowing you to enjoy the game.

The Audiologists at Oklahoma Hearing Center can fit you with custom ear plugs, so they will be more comfortable and more effective. It might be tempting to take the earplugs out or skip them altogether, but your ears will most definitely thank you in the long run if you wear them.

The biggest takeaway message from all of us at OOA is: “It’s important to wear earplugs while attending games of your favorite team. Protect your ears!”

Call any of our clinic locations to make an appointment if you think you are experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus or other hearing-related complaints. We are the top ENT practice in Oklahoma and we are here to help. Treating patients with hearing loss is what we do best!

As always, you can check out our patient education page on our website to learn more about all things ENT at www.okoa.org.