After winning super bowl XLIV in 2010, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, celebrated on the field with his Baylen son, a year old.
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The young Brees wore a helmet the size of a pint. It was more than a fashion accessory: the star shielded his son's hearing from the deafening noise of a stadium that could seat 70,000 people.
This Sunday's fans Super Bowl in Atlanta would do well to follow his example.
ABC News met with two experts – Bernard Rousseau, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Communication Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Catherine Palmer, Ph. D., Director of Audiology and Hearing Aids. at the UPMC – on ways to protect your voice and your hearing at the Super Bowl and other noisy events.
Exposure to loud volumes can damage the hearing
Cheers, booing, horns, music … there are many sources of noise at an event as important as the Super Bowl.
"Major sporting events, by nature, end up producing sounds that can affect your hearing. All participants should think about that, "said Palmer.
The type of stadium also counts.
"Super Bowls usually take place in dome-shaped stadiums, which can generate even more sound," she added.
Palmer warns that even a strong event can cause damage.
"There are noise levels that, over time, will cause progressive hearing loss," she said. "You may not notice it for a few years … but there are also noise levels, which are reached during an event [like the Super Bowl]this can actually damage your hearing immediately. I think it's important to understand that it's a permanent damage. Many people do not realize it.
In a stadium, people may not be able to break free from a dangerous noise level. Ear plugs are the key, she said.
A Philadelphia Eagles fan reacts before the Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 4, 2018.
The intense noise exposure also causes more than a hearing loss.
"This type of damage produces a distortion in your hearing, sometimes ringing in the ears, and you can start to have a sensitivity to loud sounds. There are more things that go wrong than hearing loss, "noted Palmer.
And one is vulnerable to hearing loss during any noisy event, including bars and parties.
"If you're really in a place where the music is very loud or the crowd makes a lot of noise, wearing hearing protection in these situations makes perfect sense. Or stay away from the noise, "she says.
Hearing aids, however, are not a miracle solution to hearing loss.
"Although hearing aids help people a lot, they do not solve hearing loss," said Palmer. "So you still have all this distortion in the system, which means that even if the hearing aids will help you, you will still have difficulty hearing in noise, even in the usual noisy situations, such as family celebrations or work. . So, there is no easy solution for that. "
She continued, "There are things called musician earplugs, which are good because they reduce the sound on all frequencies, so you can always hear accurately. But the key is to wear earplugs.
For the little ones, an earmuff is the best solution.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, celebrates with his wife, Brittany, and his son, Baylen. The New Orleans Saints defeated the 31-17 Indianapolis Colts on February 7, 2010 at the Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Technology and earplugs to the rescue
Palmer suggests using a phone application to measure noise levels at major events.
"The general rule is that over 85 to 90 decibels (dB), we worry about you if you're exposed for about eight hours," she said. "But these are averages, some people will suffer damage sooner and others will continue longer without damage."
She added, "Once you're over 110, we start worrying about more instant damage. These are levels that are usually quite uncomfortable. But if you are involved in the game or if you are having a drink, you may not notice these things so early, so you really want to get ready with hearing protection. "
Screaming and cheering can damage the vocal cords
Whether at the game or at a party, people tend to scream just to be heard.
"If you're a fan of the game," said Rousseau, "you can imagine that you need to increase the intensity of your voice just to compete with this level of background noise."
"Our vocal cords are a delicate fabric," he explained. "We think that in general, the vocal cord tissue can withstand some wear … but the damage is probably the result of repeated cycles of injury and repairs after repair. extremely noisy events. "
And the damage to your vocal cords can be permanent.
Signs of vocal cord damage include microscopic bleeding and outgrowths called vocal cord nodules. Treatment may include surgery or referral to a speech therapist for speech therapy, Rousseau said.
Rousseau, however, warned that even the best treatments might not completely repair the voice.
"Julie Andrews had nodules of famous vocal folds and they were operated … and then she was unable to sing as before," he said.
"In some cases, you may experience throat discomfort or throat irritation," he added. "Some people also report feeling acute pain, there will also be minor injuries that you will not feel, but if you notice discomfort or a voice that breaks, this could be a sign that it's time to let your voice rest. "
Simple strategies to protect your voice
People often notice right away that something is wrong with their voice.
"Patients will say," I remember having a seizure or a pain at the time, "said Rousseau.
Rousseau advocates "vocal stimulation", a strategy that consists of monitoring your voice and giving it a break if necessary.
"Anything you can do to recover the tissue after shouting, or to minimize howling, will help … it looks like the way a coach monitors time-outs throughout the match," he said. he declares.
"The other thing that can help is hydration and avoid irritants like cigarette smoke," he said, pointing out that the air, spicy food and food are not the only way to help. Alcohol could also cause indigestion and irritation of the throat.
Dr. Anees Benferhat is a psychiatry resident in New York and is a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.