There’s a lot of noise around the big game, the teams and the players as football fans gear up for Super Bowl Sunday. But according to Amy Badstubner, Au.D. of Elite Audiology Resources in DFW area, it’s the actual noise on the field and in the stands that can create real challenges for hearing health.

“Fan enthusiasm is often measured by the amount of noise they create on game day,” Dr. Badstubner says. “The average volume during an NFL game is estimated to be in the mid-90-decibel range – about the level of power tools. Repeated exposure to sounds that are louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss.”

Even if you didn’t score a ticket to the big game, Dr. Badstubner points out that noise levels among fans in other crowded venues, such as sports bars, can reach hearing-damaging levels. A group of audiologists for leading hearing solutions manufacturer Oticon tested noise levels during NFL playoffs at popular sports bars in several cities. They found that on average, bar noise was in the 80 decibel range, about the noise level of an alarm clock. During touchdowns, fan noise rose to 110 decibels and during big plays, ratcheted up even higher to 114.9 decibels – louder than a car horn.

What’s a passionate fan to do? Dr. Badstubner recommends adding a pair of foam ear plugs to your game day attire. “Inexpensive ear plugs are readily available at local drug or home stores,” she explains. “At about $3.50 for a package of ten pairs, you have enough to suit up 10 fans with inexpensive but effective hearing protection.”

While the focus February 1 will be on the field in Phoenix, Dr. Badstubner says coming up with an ear protecting game plan makes good sense for any sporting event where excitement raises the decibel level. That advice is especially relevant to parents of youngsters who participate in school or community sports. “Don’t assume that helmets and other head gear protects hearing,” she says. “Talk to your children’s coach about protecting young ears and look for ways to tone down the noise at games. Move away from loud speakers. Schedule breaks to the snack bar or walk around the stadium to give your ears a rest.”