Protect Your Hearing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

From the sounds of announcers discussing record-breaking rodeo events to the music of the entertainers, a visit to the rodeo can involve a lot of loud noises. While these sounds can be the norm for Houstonians to experience this time of year, a Baylor College of Medicine audiologist explains how these loud noises in enclosed areas can be damaging to your hearing.

“Any sound above 80 decibels is considered the ‘danger zone’ for your hearing. Many times, with concerts alone, they can be as loud as 120 decibels; fireworks are around 140,” said audiologist Deyanira Gonzalez in the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

According to Gonzalez, rodeo attendees will immediately be able to notice if their hearing has been damaged because they will hear muffled sounds.

“A person can feel like their speech and clarity are not there, or they might have tinnitus, which is any ringing or buzzing in the ear that nobody else can hear. This can last anywhere from one to two days, but there is a risk the damage can be permanent,” she said.

Tinnitus is the most common condition people will experience when exposed to loud noises, as well as hearing loss and a reduced sensitivity to sounds; all can be temporary or permanent. A person who was never bothered by loud sounds before can suddenly become bothered by them.

To protect your hearing and prevent damage at the rodeo and other concerts, Gonzalez recommends bringing foam earplugs to the event, which can reduce sound by about 30 decibels. “Sounds still may be too loud, but you’ll hear them at a safer level,” she said.

High sound levels are more damaging to hearing for children than adults. The foam earplugs might be too big for their small ear canals, so Gonzalez suggests getting ear protection earmuffs. You can keep both earmuffs and earplugs in and over your ears while in a loud environment. Even protective hearing items used for hunting will work.

“You can purchase disposable earplugs over the counter and even go to retail stores for earmuffs. Disposable earplugs are also sold at concession stands at NRG Stadium,” Gonzalez said.

If your hearing does not improve more than two days after attending the rodeo or one of its concerts, see an otolaryngologist or an audiologist to conduct a hearing test.

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