Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your agenda filled with parties and other activities. Almost everyone you know will be outside for some celebration the next couple weeks as Independence Day is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are usually part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! There is no reason you have to remain at home and lose out on the good times, but take a minute to give consideration to how you will take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.
Noise-induced hearing loss impacts around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this type of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent preventable. What’s necessary is a little foresight and good sense. Think about some examples of why you need to protect your ears as you have fun this season and how to do it.
Fireworks are the Summers Most Harmful Offenders.
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. Noise-related hearing loss can begin at 85 decibels with repeated 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. Still, both those numbers are lower than what you would expect from a firework
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? Summer is the greatest time for some of the best musicians come out to play. 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.
Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live 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
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. At a good event, there will be people on all sides of you shouting to talk over everyone else. 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 higher and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
What type of protection should you use for your ears? You may not realize that it’s actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. While enjoying live music, crowds, or fireworks, you need to wear ear protection. If you still want to hear whats going on, but at a safe level, you should consider trying foam earplugs.
If there is a fireworks show, take the family back to a safe distance. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. Being a little further away helps you avoid large crowds making the show more enjoyable
Holiday Celebrations Do Have Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
Noise is only one of several concerns. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Remember to celebrate in moderation. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Bring lots of water with you to prevent dehydration and if you are drinking alcohol, do it in moderation. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Where is the nearest shade? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. 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 schedule an appointment with a hearing care specialist.