Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

Family enjoying independence day celebration oblivious to the risk of hearing loss from fireworks.

Now that the weather is warm you most likely have your agenda filled with parties and other activities. Almost everybody you know will be outdoors for some event the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. You love to go to live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. There is no reason you have to stay in your house and lose out on the fun, but take a second to consider how you should take care of your hearing when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little forethought and good sense. Think about some examples of why you should protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and the best ways of doing it.

Topping the List of Hearing risks are Exploding Fireworks.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Despite that, you rarely hear experts warning people about this threat like they do with fire or burns.

Boys Town National Research Hospital states you’re at risk of hearing loss from fireworks regardless if you’re shooting them off yourself or watching them at a public show. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. For short durations 140 decibels is the limit for adults and 120 decibels for children before hearing damage may happen. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.

The positive spin? Your risk of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. People watching, for example, from their porch, would be less at risk than someone in the stands where the fireworks show is happening. Boys Town recommends you stand at least 30 yards away if you are an adult. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.

Because You Love Live Music

Who doesn’t? And of course some of the best musicians in the world come out to perform in the summer. The World Health Association states that a billion teens are at risk for hearing loss from music whether it is coming from ear-buds, a parade or a favorite band playing on stage.

Hearing loss is a constant factor when it comes to repeated exposure to loud music. A sound at 100 decibels, which is typical level for live shows, becomes dangerous after just 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

Crowds are the most underestimated hearing danger at celebrations. At a good event, there will be people on all sides of you shouting to talk over everybody else. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will most likely be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

How can you keep your ears safe? It’s a lot more common sense than you might realize. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:

  • Will there be loud music?
  • Large crowds?
  • Fireworks?

If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. It is important to wear hearing protection if you are going to be around loud music, crowds, or fireworks. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.

You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. A block or two away is the safest minimum distance. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.

Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer

There is more to talk about here than just sound. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you already have some hearing loss or if you suffer from tinnitus, these things will get worse.

Remember to celebrate in moderation. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. You also need to be able to go somewhere and get out of the heat for a while. Where is the nearest shade? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. You can take care of your ears and still have a great time. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.

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