For millions of Americans young and old, fireworks displays mark the pinnacle of 4th of July festivities. But as the marvelous displays delight our eyes, we too often forget what’s going on with our ears.
Like other explosives, fireworks produce sounds well past the decibel level where hearing damage occurs. A single loud explosion may cause irreversible trauma to the nerve cells of the inner ear resulting in temporary or permanent hearing problems or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Fortunately, it's easy to protect your ears and those of your loved ones this summer. Here are the steps you can take to ensure your hearing stays healthy during fireworks displays.
- First things first, if you’re a hearing aid wearer, turn your hearing aids off or remove them during displays.
- Wear hearing protection. Inexpensive foam ear plugs from the drug store will do so long as they are snugly fit to seal the ear canal. Children may do better with special headphones worn over the ears and designed expressly for hearing protection.
- Hearing protection only reduces noise, so you’ll also want to keep a healthy distance from displays to ensure they stay at a healthy decibel range. This means 15-20 yards for adults and 50-60 yards for children.
Protect Your Ears
For a hearing-healthy summer, follow these tips at other loud summer events like rock concerts, sporting events, air shows and any other event where you would need to shout to be heard over the noise. If someone you love experiences ear pain, muffled hearing or ringing in the ears for more than 48 hours after being exposed to loud noise, contact your doctor or hearing professional.