CHC audiologist shows how it’s done
CHC audiologist Kristin Baldwin knows very well the harmful effects of noise on hearing. Exposure to loud sounds, especially 85 decibels or higher, over time can result in permanent hearing loss and other serious hearing problems.
So what was Dr. Baldwin doing at a rock concert at Nassau Colisseum? Indulging her love of 80s and 90s music. But more importantly demonstrating how hearing protection can prevent harm to your hearing and still allow you to enjoy the show!
Recently my sister and I went to the Total Package Tour at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. We were very excited to see Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul, and New Kids on the Block. As I arrived at work the morning of the concert, I realized I had forgotten my custom ear plugs at home. I would not have time to stop home to pick them up before heading out for the concert.
Luckily, I work at the Center for Hearing and Communication and was able to take a few foam disposable ear plugs for my sister and myself. And boy was I glad I took them! The concert was absolutely amazing and had such high energy. From the moment we sat down in our seats, I thought to myself “this seems loud already and not everyone is here.” I think we get so caught up in the excitement of the event, we do not realize the people talking and walking around and the music in the background adds up.
After settling into my seat and getting my ear plugs in place (and my sister’s too!), I took a reading of the sound around me. The noise level before everyone was there and before anyone was performing was 82 dB. This level before the show, during breaks, and the level during the performances all add up. My sister and I were still able to talk to one another while we waited for everything to start. Yes, we did need to lean into one another since our voices to ourselves seemed very loud but to one another seemed very low. However, we adjusted quickly.
I am used to wearing ear plugs during concerts since I began my journey as a student of audiology. My sister, on the other hand, had not worn them before. I asked her how she felt. She said they felt a little strange and she thought she wasn’t hearing well but kept them on. When Boyz II Men took the stage, I of course wanted a reading of the sound. You can see from the photo (sorry for the low quality due to the lighting) we were a good distance from the stage and the noise level was 100 dB – definitely time for ear plugs if you didn’t have them in already. When the headliner, New Kids on the Block, took the stage the read was off the chart: >115 dB. Throughout their performance I was getting readings from 90-110 dB.
After the concert my sister said she took the ear plugs out while we were in the hallway to exit and she did not realize how much they helped. She said everything sounded so loud and she was glad she had them in; I waited until we left the building to remove mine.
The next morning my sister thanked me for bringing the ear plugs for her. She said she had no fullness in her ears, she had no ringing, and she felt like she was hearing like her typical self – not like she had a head cold (which is how people often feel following noise exposure). She said the ear plugs had no effect on her enjoyment or ability to hear during the concert; if anything it made it more enjoyable for her.
We arrived inside the venue at 7:00pm and stayed until the bitter end at 11:00pm. That’s four hours of noise exposure varying from about 80-115+dB.
Summertime is a great time for concert going (all year round in my opinion too) so make sure you think twice about that exposure. We wear sunglasses to protect our eyes, sunscreen and bug spray to protect our skin, at least flip flops to protect our feet; we need to make sure we wear ear plugs to protect our hearing. All that exposure adds up!
Kristin Baldwin, AuD, CCC-A
Dr. Kristin Baldwin, a 2013 graduate of Long Island AuD Consortium (Adelphi/Hostra/St. John’s), is a passionate and dynamic member of CHC’s team of audiologists. With unsurpassed technical expertise, Dr. Baldwin is skilled at determining just the right hearing solution for each person’s individual needs. Her expertise includes the fitting of Lyric, an extended wear hearing devise that fits in the ear canal and is completely invisible. In addition, Dr. Baldwin completes Auditory Processing evaluations on individuals with normal hearing who have difficulty understanding auditory information. Dr. Baldwin also goes out into the community on our audiological mobile unit as part of CHC’s Center for Hearing and Aging. She provides hearing screenings, complete evaluations, and assistive technology evaluations.