Noise level in basketball arenas, especially at tournament time can be deafening. Some arenas have measured decibel levels at 120 dB- the same level as a jet engine! At some arenas the fans are encouraged to pump up the volume to increase the level of excitement with signs like “GETLOUD.” The combination of screaming fans, the announcers, and music all add up to dangerous noise levels.
According to OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) we can tolerate that level of noise for about fifteen minutes without permanent damage. So what are we doing to our ears after a two hour game?
Noise damage to our ears occurs when tiny hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear) called cilia become damaged from excessive noise levels. These hair cells are responsible for transmitting frequency information to the nerve of hearing and then on to the brain for processing. Exposure to loud noise levels can result in a temporary hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Repeated exposure over time can lead to irreversible damage. To date there are no surgical options to replace these hair cells once they are damaged.
So go on and root for the home team….just be smart and use hearing protection. There are several over the counter options for earplugs that can be purchased and they will reduce the level of noise delivered to your ear. These plugs will come with a noise reduction rating (NRR) that will let you know how effective they are. There is also an option for custom noise protection which will give you additional protection; however they are a bit more costly.
For additional information on which type of ear protection maybe best for you feel free to contact Dr. Dominick Servedio AuD .