When you were growing up, did you ever ask or hear the question, “If you could do without one of your senses, which one would it be?” It is a complex and disturbing query. As a human being you rely heavily on your senses (along with your intellect and emotions) to navigate life. Our senses have been called intelligences, minds, perceptions, sensations, sense organs, sensory skills or deficits, s, and physical sensations.
Like many people who enjoy the vast musical offerings during the summer months, I too love outdoor concerts. There is something special about feeling the warmth of a summer’s day or sultry summer evening while listening to wonderful live music. While traveling across three states with a friend to attend a music festival recently, I was reminded of just how important our senses are. We often take for granted that which our bodies can do without effort or question.
When we are healthfully functional, we see a stunning ocean sunset, hear softly crashing waves, feel sunshine beaming down on our skin, taste cool, hydrating water, smell the mixture of sand and ocean, and speak to others about the joys of experiencing relaxation at the shore. The nervous system has a sensory organ for each of the basic five senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, and speaking. There are other senses, including a sixth sense, that embodies that which is perceptible on less obvious levels.
Upon arriving at our summer music festival we were excited to find our seats upgraded from the lawn to thrid row center. It was thrilling to walk past the many rows of seats, filled with fellow music lovers, until we were ushered to our chairs just a few feet from the massive stage. The day was filled with a lineup of accomplished musical artists, one after the other from afternoon to evening. We were swiftly up on our feet, dancing more than sitting as each artist performed.
It was a glorious day despite the heat, causing us to purchase the pavilion’s expensive drinks. Because of the quality of the music, including some nationally renowned performers, we prioritized our entertainment over all else. Our pocketbooks paled in comparison to our enjoyment and consequential hydration.
After the first several acts, we enthusiastically prepared for the two incredible headliners, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu. Their music and ability to entertain were both outstanding; two highly talented artists and beautiful, empowered women. Without realizing it at first, the music got louder for these two powerhouse performers. The already gigantic speaker’s volume was turned up for an increase in building the audience’s energy level.
At a certain point, my friend and I noticed that our ears physically hurt. Mine were hurting so much that I had to move to the side of the stage and protect them. Luckily I could still see the stage and enlarged screens to still enjoy the show. Unfortunately, soon afterwards I realized that I felt a “sound attack” on my system, specifically as I continued to perceive the music, which quickly felt more like offensive noise.
A staff member offered me malleable ear plugs, yet I soon surmised that even these squishy ear protectors did not work for me. Nothing could drown out the loud sounds attacking my sense of peace and auditory health. We left the festival early, drenched in sweat and for me, riddled with fear as I couldn’t hear properly, leaving a great day with a side dish of terror. This excellent 9+ hour music festival rendered a hearing change that lasted for almost two days.
I am very reliant on my hearing as a mother, music lover, therapist, professional speaker, singer, and whole person interacting with all in my world. Thankfully I am better now and I learned a very important lesson about self-care.
So here are the facts about protecting your sense of hearing:
- Exposure to loud sounds is like exposure to the sun. If excessive, it is cumulative.
- It is no laughing matter to have extremely loud music blasting close to your ears for hours.
- Listening to loud headphones repetitively holds the risk for hearing loss in the future.
- Adults and kids who listen to loud music and headphones must be aware of this phenomenon.
- Exposure to loud noises and the symptoms afterward raise the potential risks for later hearing damage.
- If you are going to a concert, be sure to use ear plugs.
- Listen to your body and respect what it tells you. Move away from dangerous overexposure to anything potentially harmful.
- Getting the cheaper seats sometimes does pay.