Common Health Hazards of Outdoor Music Festivals
For many music lovers, summer can mark the beginning of a months-long parade of outdoor festivals, block parties and other musical events. Seeing your favorite bands and performers live can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and dedicated festival-goers may begin blocking out their work and social calendars months in advance, as soon as tour dates are announced.
However, nothing can ruin the ambiance of a jam-packed festival more quickly than injury or illness, and when you’re dancing and drinking under the hot sun with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of other festival-goers, you may be at greater risk.
Read on to learn more about some common health hazards that can strike at the least opportune time, as well as how you can best treat any problems that arise.
Dehydration, Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Combining heat and sun with alcohol (while making bottled water available only at a significant markup) can be a recipe for dehydration; and while mild dehydration can usually be corrected by sitting in the shade and making an extra effort to hydrate yourself, more serious dehydration could cause you to develop heat stroke or even heat exhaustion.
Dehydration happens whenever you lose liquids more quickly than you take them in. Sweating in the outdoor heat; consuming alcohol, caffeine or high-sodium foods; or failing to drink enough water can all lead to dehydration.
Although mild dehydration shouldn’t pose any long-term health problems, chronic dehydration can put undue strain on the kidneys as they work to filter waste from your blood.
Dehydration can also harm your heart by disturbing the balance of electrolytes (namely sodium and potassium) in your blood; because electrolytes are responsible for maintaining the rhythm of your heartbeat, severe dehydration can lead to heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat.
In general, once you’ve begun to feel thirsty, you’ve already entered the initial stages of dehydration; it’s important to begin drinking water quickly (and continue even after you no longer feel thirst).
Heat exhaustion can accompany dehydration, and usually manifests itself in an elevated body temperature. Individuals suffering from heat exhaustion may feel dizzy, suffer from heart palpitations or a racing heartbeat or even experience nausea or vomiting.
Because of the risk of vomiting while suffering from heat exhaustion, it’s important to hydrate yourself slowly and steadily; waiting until you’re very thirsty and then downing an entire bottle of water can be a recipe for regurgitation.
Heat stroke occurs whenever heat exhaustion goes untreated; it is marked by a significantly elevated temperature (usually over 104 degrees Fahrenheit), loss of consciousness or even seizures. Because an extended elevated body temperature can lead to permanent brain damage, it’s crucial to seek treatment for heat stroke immediately.
Sprains, Strains and Bruises
Another potential hazard of attending a live music festival can involve contact (either inadvertent or deliberate) with other concertgoers. Jumping around in a rough mosh pit or even just accidentally colliding with another individual can cause bruising, muscle strains or even joint sprains.
While most minor bruises shouldn’t require medical intervention, bruises with significant swelling could indicate a hematoma, which may require treatment. It’s always a good idea to have any painful bruises checked out by a medical professional if they don’t begin to fade on their own within a few days.
Meanwhile, rolling your ankle while walking, landing awkwardly on a knee or hoisting up another concert goer to get a better view can strain or sprain your muscles and connective tissues, stretching them beyond their comfort zone and causing inflammation or even minute tears in the tissue.
Both sprains and strains are usually marked by sharp or throbbing pain, swelling, and quick bruising.
If you suffer a joint injury that leaves you wincing whenever you move in a certain way, you may want to seek treatment at an urgent care facility to ensure your strain or sprain doesn’t worsen and pose long-term problems.
Listening to live music without any type of hearing protection can wreak havoc on your ears and accelerate hearing loss. You may find yourself experiencing tinnitus—or a ringing in the ears—for hours or even days after the concert.
Although there is no cure for chronic tinnitus, it’s unlikely that a single concert will cause you to develop permanent ringing in your ears.
However, if it’s been more than a day or two since the music ended and you still feel as though sounds are muffled, distorted or just not quite back to normal, you may want to seek treatment at an urgent care center to rule out any physical problems with your eardrums.
If your eardrums are intact and your ear looks otherwise healthy, you’ll likely be referred to an audiologist for follow-up treatment to see whether there is any structural damage to the delicate internal components of your ear.
While these health ailments can put a damper on your concert experience, they pale in comparison to the problems that can develop without medical treatment. If you’re planning to attend any outdoor shows this summer, it’s important to be prepared and have a plan in place just in case you (or a friend) wind up in need of urgent medical treatment.