Like the Olympics and the Presidential election cycle, the World Cup takes center stage every four years. This provides soccer (or “football” if you’re a purist) fans with the opportunity to cheer on the best players in the world. This year’s event is being hosted by Russia, and games will be played in 11 cities throughout the country. While this monthlong tournament offers impressive feats of athleticism and plenty of excitement, there are dangers associated with watching the games.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Ever since ancient times, crowds have flocked to sporting events. Large groups of people make a lot of noise, and high decibel levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. There’s little doubt that fans left gladiatorial matches in Rome complaining of tinnitus and hearing loss, and nothing has changed over the centuries (with the possible exception of the attire we wear). Any large-scale sporting event puts you at risk of hearing damage.
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when you are exposed to noises louder than 85 decibels over an extended period of time. How long it takes to suffer from hearing loss depends on how loud the sounds are and the length of your exposure. For instance:
- Exposure to sound over 85 dB (busy Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley traffic) can cause damage in eight hours.
- Exposure to sound over 100 dB (lawn mower) can cause damage in 15 minutes.
- Exposure to sound over 140 dB (rock ‘n roll concert) can cause immediate damage.
Soccer matches, baseball and football games and other sporting events can all cause hearing damage as the crowds get caught up in the action. The best way to protect yourself from hearing loss is to watch the games from home. But there’s nothing quite as exciting as watching a live sporting event, so if you happen to be visiting Russia this summer and were lucky enough to score tickets to the World Cup, there are steps you can take to ensure you have a safe time. These tips apply even if you’re catching a neighborhood softball game in Simi Valley.
No More Vuvuzelas
During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the world was introduced to vuvuzelas. These plastic horns, blown by fans throughout the games, produce noise levels as high as 120 dB, making them dangerous to spectators. Following the controversy surrounding their use and the undeniable threat of permanent hearing loss, FIFA – the official governing body of the World Cup – chose wooden spoons as the official celebratory noisemaking device for the 2018 games. While still offering fans a fun experience, the spoons are considerably safer than the vuvuzela.
Protect Your Hearing During Sporting Events
If you’re attending a game in which loud crowd noise is a factor, the best thing you can do to ensure a safe time is to wear hearing protection. Your Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley audiologist can make custom earplugs designed from a mold of your ears. This will ensure a perfect fit and dependable protection from hearing loss.
If you choose instead to watch an event from the comfort of your living room, make sure to keep the volume level on your TV down. That way, the only danger will be spilled popcorn in the cushions of your La-Z-Boy.
By all means enjoy the World Cup this year – but be prepared. Contact your Thousand Oaks or Simi Valley audiologist to get started.