Since before Marshawn Lynch created the Beast Quake in the Seattle Seahawks’ 2011 season, loud stadiums have become a source of pride for fans. But with stadium noise exceeding safe decibel (sound pressure) levels, it’s also a source of hearing loss.
Cheering fans can push decibel levels well into the hundreds. At these levels, it only takes 1 to 15 minutes for the sound to damage your ears.
The damage done to your ears by exposure to loud noise is dependent upon the decibel level and the length of time you’re exposed. Repeated exposure to sound levels above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. One symptom of hearing loss is tinnitus, or a ringing in your ears.
Football isn’t the only sport that puts fans at risk, though; from vuvuzelas to referee whistles, unsafe noise levels are common at sporting events. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 12.5% of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 years (approximately 5.2 million people) and 17% of adults ages 20 to 69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.