HEARING TIPS

When You Are Attending Events and Festivities be Sure to Think of Ear Protection

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

The summer season is here, and your agenda is quite possibly already loaded with all kinds of parties and plans. It’s almost Independence Day and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. You love to attend live music events, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. When going out to celebrate this holiday season, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a second to consider how you might protect your hearing.

Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population below the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. It just takes a little planning and common sense. Consider some reasons you need to protect your hearing as you celebrate this summer and how to do it.

FireWorks are the Loudest of all.

There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. Hearing damage is not mentioned much by experts, but it tops the list of dangers associated with fireworks.

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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 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. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.

The positive spin? The further away you are away from the explosion, the lower your risk of hearing damage. For example, if you’re sitting in the stands at a field where they are shooting off the fireworks, you’re at greater risk than someone watching it from their porch. 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.

Live Music is Something you Love

Who doesn’t? And summer celebrations bring out some of the best musicians in the world! 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!

Crowd Noise is Easily Overlooked

At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that at sporting events the crowd volume is 80 to 90 dB. Unfortunately, it will quite possibly be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.

Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Common Sense

What type of protection should you use for your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might realize. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:

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

You can make some useful choices based on what you expect from the celebration. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. You don’t have to be dangerously close to enjoy fireworks. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.

Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage

Sound levels are not the only concern here. 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.

Try not to overdo it. If the celebration is going to last all day and into the night, maybe start later. If you’re planning on partaking of alcohol try moderation and don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Getting out of the heat for short periods is essential. Can you find some shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?

Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to take care of your ears also. 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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