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Some doctors are warning the 12th man's efforts to break the world crowd noise record Sunday could lead to ear and throat damage. (AP file)

Doctors warn of ear, throat damage in Seahawks record crowd noise attempt

As Seahawks fans get ready to try to break the world record for the loudest crowd at a stadium, some experts are warning to protect your ears and your throat.

"It's great to break the world record, not your eardrums," said audiologist Dr. Lisa Tseng with hi HealthInnovations in Seattle in an interview with KIRO Radio's Tom and Curley Show.

A fan group called Volume 12 is leading the effort to top the record set by a stadium in Turkey, where the Guinness Book of World Records measured the crowd at 131.7 decibels at a soccer match in 2011.

Tseng is urging fans to wear earplugs at CenturyLink Field, already believed to be the loudest stadium in the NFL.

"Noise levels at 131 decibels that the 12th man is trying to achieve can hurt your ears in just a few seconds," Tseng says.

Even if fans don't break the record, it's a pretty safe bet plenty of people will suffer at least a little hearing damage. Paradoxically, those who've already experienced some hearing loss in the past are at even greater risk, Tseng says.

"If you do have some hearing loss, you're actually more sensitive to loud noises because your cells are less sensitive to noises and it attracts more ear cells to react when there is noise."

It's something Curley knows all too well. After inadvertently getting his ear blown out by a speaker during an appearance, he's been extra sensitive to loud noises. Going to a big event like a Seahawks game can be extremely painful and he has to wear earplugs or stuff his ears with toilet paper to protect himself.

"An audiologist told me to imagine your ear has little sensitive grass and when you get a big blast of sound, it mows down those little hairs and they never grow back again."

It's not just fans' hearing that's at risk in the record setting effort. Doctors warn trying to scream at the top of your lungs can cause throat problems as well.

Dr. Gabriela Sanchez, an ear nose and throat specialist at Swedish Medical Center, says fans should practice yelling properly by engaging their diaphragm and abdominal muscles rather than their throats because good breath support is the key to getting louder.

Sanchez also advises practicing before the game, and warming up your voice before unleashing your loudest howl.

There's a good chance fans will be hoarse after screaming their lungs out for hours. Sanchez recommends resting your voice following the game to let it recover. And even if you suffer a little damage, the doctor says that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Hey, you'll be part of a world record," she says.

Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. and the pre-game on KIRO Radio begins at 2 p.m.


Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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