Advice & Tips

How are loud sports events affecting our hearing?

Watching a live sports event from the stalls is a great way to truly immerse yourself in the action and be a part of an incredible atmosphere with friends, family and fellow fans.

Cheers from the sidelines, whistles and horns blown and music blaring through the arena are just some of the loud sounds that can make your experience all the more enjoyable.

But are these loud noises affecting our hearing in the long run?

Noise induced hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common form of cognitive deprivation, with noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)  falling into this category. NIHL can be caused by overexposure to loud sounds or a quick burst of sudden intense noise, with both leading to the same outcome: damaged hair cells. Once these tiny and important cochlear hair cells are compromised, they cannot be regenerated. A complete cure is yet to be found for NIHL, however, it can be treated.

Could cheering on your favourite sports team could be contributing to hearing loss.Could cheering on your favourite sports team be contributing to hearing loss?

How loud is too loud?

Sound is measured in decibels and, according to Safework NSW, being exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels (dB) for more than eight hours can lead to permanent hearing loss1. For every 3dB increase, the recommended exposure time decreases by half. According to WebMD, the average sports game and crowd can reach levels of 120 – 129 dB, which is well above the advised guideline2.

One sports crowd even made it to the Guinness World Records by recording a cheer of 142.2dB at an American football game in Kansas City, 2014. This may have been a fun record to be a part of, but think about all those poor ears! 

Although shouting and cheering are fun ways to show support, if your ears aren't protected, you face more risk of being exposed to hearing loss in the future and with no scientific cure, your favourite sports games may never be the same.

The average sports game and crowd can reach levels of 120 – 129 dB.

How can you help?

Not being able to hear the commentator or your favourite teams' chant isn't a great way to spend a sports game. Prevention is better than cure, so acting now may just save your hearing in the future. Completely inexpensive and totally worth it, earplugs can be worn at loud events, such as sports games, to protect your hearing. They can reduce noise levels by 20 – 30 dB, creating a much safer listening environment.

If you're an avid sports fan who regularly attends games and are worried about your hearing or that of someone else, it's a great idea to book a *free hearing test with our expert team at Adelaide Digital Hearing. Call us on 1800 940 982 or click here to book your appointment. 

1Safework NSW, Noise. Accessed July 2017 
2WebMD, Harmful Noise Levels – Topic Overview. Accessed July 2017

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