Enjoy the Fireworks, but Protect Your Ears!


Photo: Shutterstock

Nothing says Fourth of July like outdoor cookouts and fireworks overhead. Illuminating the sky with a grand display has been an annual tradition for as long as we can remember, since John Adams wished it to be part of the festivities even before signing the Declaration of Independence.

While we encourage everyone to take part in the celebration, it’s important to remember to take precautions to protect your hearing. In a study published last year, the Centers for Disease Control said that nearly one in every four Americans suffer from temporary or permanent noise-induced hearing loss.

“Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States and is twice as prevalent as diabetes or cancer,” the authors report. It is a significant, often unrecognized health problem among adults in the US that can be associated with decreased social, psychological, and cognitive functioning if left untreated.

The following safety tips are recommendations from otolaryngologist Maria Suurna, M.D., to keep in mind for tomorrow’s celebrations and any future plans involving loud noise:

  • Maintain a safe distance from the source of fireworks. If you are planning to use your own fireworks, choose quieter options and use hearing protective devices.
  • Keep children and infants safe from exposure to loud fireworks, as they might be more susceptible to hearing damage at lower decibels than adults.
  • If you cannot avoid excessive firework noise, it’s recommended to wear hearing protection devices such as earplugs and earmuffs.
  • Pay attention to symptoms of possible hearing damage such as tinnitus, ear fullness, pressure, or pain.
  • Be sure to see a doctor if you develop symptoms or suspect hearing loss after watching fireworks.
  • The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to avoid loud noise exposure. Exposure to sounds above 85 dB can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.

– Seimi Rurup

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