Going to a rave is a thrilling experience altogether. Meeting new people within the rave community is fun, and so is exchanging Kandi and giving light shows with your LED gloves. Although the best part about a rave is hearing your favorite music blasted on speakers as loud as possible, to such a level that you can feel the sound vibrations bouncing off your body. That feeling is what keeps you coming back for more. But have you ever wondered if music that loud could potentially be damaging your ears without music earplugs?
After leaving a rave, many of you (if not all of you) have probably noticed ringing or buzzing in your ears. Believe it or not, that ringing or buzzing is actually partial hearing damage. Loud music is fun to enjoy, but it does come with negative effects that can be long-lasting, and sometimes even permanent.
Why Do People Wear Music Earplugs At Raves?
In any loud setting, such as a concert or rave, the sound waves are entering your ears and could be causing damage to the delicate internal structures of your ears. Damage to these structures could result in short-term hearing problems, and in some cases permanent hearing loss. Noise can damage hair cells, membranes, nerves, or other parts of your ear. This is why you see people wearing music earplugs at raves. Music earplugs are designed to protect your hearing. They work by evenly distributing sound waves across all frequencies which prevents your cochlea from becoming flattened or over-stimulated. Visit our blog to learn more about music earplugs and how to maintain them.
1. Heavy Bass vs. Your Cochlea (Inner Ear)
Loud noise is very harmful to your ears, especially your cochlea which is your inner ear. Being exposed to loud sounds can damage cells and membranes in the cochlea and listening to loud noise for a long time can overwork hair cells in the ear which can cause these cells to die. Hearing loss progresses as long as the exposure to these loud sounds continues. Damage to the inner ear or auditory neural system is generally permanent.
2. Sound Waves Make Your Eardrums Vibrate
The main function of the eardrum is to vibrate when sound waves hit it so it can send sounds further into the ear for processing. Loud noise can tear or perforate the eardrum which can result in not being able to hear properly for a while. However, the eardrum is capable of repairing itself when it’s torn.
3. The Tiny Hair Cells In Your Ears Can’t ‘Stand’ Loud Music
There are around 15,000 tiny hair cells lining the middle of your ear. They play a fundamental part in the hearing process and are also one of the most delicate parts of the ear.
When sound waves enter the ear canal, the hair cells bend in response to the level of sound they encounter. These hairs pass the waves further into the ear. When at a rave with loud music, the hair cells will bend over and stay in the position. This means they aren’t doing their job which leaves you unable to hear as well as you normally would. Sounds might be muffled, you might not hear whispers, or you may even experience ringing in your ears for a few hours or sometimes days after being exposed to loud music. Normal hearing will return after a recovery period that allows the hair cells to become straight. This is not always the case, though.
If loud noise damages too many of the hair cells, some of them will die. By the time you notice hearing loss, many hair cells have been destroyed and cannot be repaired. According to the CDC, up to 30% to 50% of hair cells can be damaged or destroyed before changes in your hearing can be measured by a hearing test.
4. Your Auditory Nerve Sends Your Favorite Tunes To Your Brain
Loud noise can damage the auditory nerve which carries information about sounds to your brain. When damaged, it most likely will stay that way and can’t be fixed. Hearing aids are usually required to recover some hearing when auditory nerve damage is present.
5. You Can’t Pause or Skip The Ringing in Your Ears (Tinnitus)
After being exposed to loud music, you may experience Tinnitus which is the ringing or buzzing in one or both of your ears. Tinnitus is the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. In other words, you are hearing something in your ears that other people are not hearing.
6. Increase Chances of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Being exposted to sounds that are too loud for a long period of time can damage your hearing permanently. This is known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The louder the noise, the faster it can damage your hearing. If the noise is very loud you could lose your hearing instantly. Hearing damage can build slowly if you are exposed to noise that is not that loud, but it can be long-lasting.
Any sort of hearing damage such as noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis can happen to anyone at any age which is why it is important to understand the harmful and sometimes irreversible effects of loud noise. Be mindful of volume when listening to music with headphones or when in the car. The good news is that music earplugs are designed to provide a crisp clear sound experience at a lower volume which is a great way to protect your hearing when at a rave or concert.
Juliet Norelli has been a part of the rave community for 10 years. She shares her knowledge through writing to give helpful tips and advice to all ravers.