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For many people fireworks are the highlight of the July 4th holiday weekend.  However, fireworks also have their risks and one danger cannot be seen: hearing loss. Sound intensity (in this case noise) is measured in decibels (dB) and typically any sound above 85 dB is considered harmful. Most fireworks produce sounds that are over 125 dB and therefore come with the risk of damaging your hearing.

The inner ear is the part of the ear that gets damaged the most when we expose ourselves to loud noises. It consists of tens of thousands of tiny nerve cells, also called “hair cells”, that pick up sound vibrations and transform them into information that the brain can understand. A sensory overload if these vibrating hair cells, can cause noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in your ears).

On July 4th, children are at a particularly high risk of harmful noise-induced hearing loss and you should therefore take extra care to protect their hearing. Here are a few tips:

Tips For Protecting Your Ears

1) Protect your Hearing: Wear earplugs.
Earplugs or over-the ear headphones are very effective for preventing hearing damage. Cheap foam or silicon ear plugs can be found at your local pharmacy. These are both effective and convenient because they allow you to hear music and speech, while blocking out loud noises. Be sure to put them in before the show and keep them in for the entire show.

2) Protect your Hearing: Sit at a comfortable distance from the display.
Sit at least 500 feet from the fireworks. This distance should diminish the should to a safe level.

3) Protect your Hearing: Leave the fireworks to the professionals.
If you set the fireworks off yourself, you will experience the noise up-close and loud.

4) Protect your Hearing: Watch the fireworks from inside a home or car.
This should block most of the noise.

The post July 4th Hearing Checkup…

Check if you experience any of the following symptoms, once the fireworks are over:

1) You have pain in your ears after the loud noise has stopped.

2) There is ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after hearing the noise.

3) You have sudden difficulty understanding speech (individual words), even if you can hear that the person is speaking.

These indicators of hearing impairment could be temporary and go away in a few hours or a day. However, if they persists for more than 48 hours you should visit your doctor.

by Nicole Susmanne