With July 4thcoming up, fireworks are a must on most to-do lists for celebrating this holiday. Fireworks, along with many other activities of summer fun can pose a threat to your hearing health. However, there are a few tips from the experts to help you take caution in protecting your ears, while still enjoying the sights, sounds, and fun of summer.
Many summer activities come with loud noise-fireworks, lawn mowers, power tools, motorized recreational vehicles, target shooting, and concerts-to name a few. While hearing loss can often be an issue that progresses over time, it can also be caused by some sort of trauma to the ear, such as instantaneous loud noise. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, approximately 15% of Americans ages 20-69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise.
How does noise affect your hearing?
The function of hearing takes place whenever the delicate hair cells in your inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. An overload of these vibrating cells is much like overloading an electrical circuit, and loud noises can damage the cells. This damage results in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The cells that vibrate most quickly will be the first to be damaged or die (because they get overloaded more easily), and these cells are the ones that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds clearly.
A Few Proactive Tips to Protect Your Hearing
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Better Hearing Institute share many of the same practices to protect your hearing this summer.
- Keep a safe distance. Noise from exploding fireworks can reach as high as 155 decibels (above 85 decibels can be considered unsafe). The closer you are, the greater the risk is for immediate, sudden, and even permanent hearing loss. Try to keep a safe distance (at least 500 feet) from fireworks, fire crackers, speaker systems, or sources of loud noise.
- Walk away and plug your ears. If there is a sudden loud noise in close proximity, plug your ears and walk away until you can maintain a safe distance.
- Know your limits-and keep time in noisy environments to a minimum. Sounds above 85 decibels can be considered dangers for causing hearing loss-and the louder the sound, the quicker that damage can take place. Listen to your body’s warning signs-if a noise feels “too loud” or “too close” or lasts “too long”, and if you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears, you need to move away from the noise, and limit your time in this environment.
- Wear earplugs. Earplugs are an inexpensive and easy way to protect your hearing at loud events, and especially when operating loud machinery or firing guns. Disposable earplugs, made of foam or silicone, are available at pharmacies and are adequate in blocking out dangerously loud noises, but still allowing you to hear music and conversation.
- Turn it down. Try to keep the volume at a reasonably low volume.
- Seek professional help. If you feel that your hearing has been affected, call to make an appointment at SoundLogic today. A hearing care professional can conduct a hearing test to determine if you have any hearing loss that should be treated, as well as provide custom ear protection to ensure a proper fit.