Football games: hearing may also take a knock


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Sports fans are used to loud stadiums with peaks in cheering at each touchdown. Some National Football League teams in the USA even try to win the title of loudest outdoor stadium in the world. The Seattle Seahawks registered record noise of 136.6 dB in September after an effort organized by a fan group. A month later, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to top this record.

According to an NFL spokesman, “Fans know they are going to a football game and not searching for a book at a library.” However, these levels of noise can have serious consequences in the long term. Elliott Berger, an acoustic engineer at 3M, a protective hearing device manufacturer, says that the average volume during a game is probably around 90 dB. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that exposure to noise in this range should be limited to 60 minutes. The average game lasts much longer than that.

Fans may consider the noise part of the fun, but they should be aware that “there is increasing evidence that if your ears are ringing, damage is happening,” says Charles Liberman, Professor of otology at Harvard Medical School. “There is a huge range of ear vulnerability,” he adds, with some people having “tough” ears and others having “tender” ears. “You don’t know till it happens to you.” Potential damage could include partial deafness, tinnitus, and less common auditory problems like hyperacusis or ear pain.

Some experts say that going to a few games in the course of a year is unlikely to cause a problem. That said, Seahawks followers are planning to take back the record of loudest fan group.

Source: New York Times