HEARING TIPS

When Going to Parties and Festivities it’s Important to Protect Your Ears

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

Now that the weather is warm you quite possibly have your schedule filled with parties and other activities. Almost everybody you know will be outside for some festivity the next couple weeks as The Fourth of July is just around the corner. Parades, marching bands, and live music are frequently part of the fun, and don’t forget fireworks! There is no cause to remain home and miss out on the good times, but take a second to give consideration to how you might protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this summer.

Noise-induced hearing loss impacts about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population less than the age of 70; that equals around 40 million people. The sad part is this kind of hearing damage is nearly 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Take into consideration some examples of why you should really protect your ears as you have fun this season and the best ways of doing it.

Because Fireworks are the Worst

At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. 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. With extensive exposure, any sound over 85 decibels can cause noise-related hearing damage. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. 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 chance of hearing loss is reduced the further you are away from the explosion. Watching the fireworks show from nearby is definitely more damaging than watching them from your porch at home. 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.

Any person exposed to loud music faces the same possible consequence, but time is a factor when it comes to live music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Almost all concerts are longer than that!

It is Easy to Forget how Loud the Crowd is

The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody 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 celebration or parade.

Use Common Sense When Celebrating

What can you do to take care of your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:

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

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. Something simple like foam earplugs will allow you to hear what’s going on still, but at a safe level.

The family should be kept at a safe distance during a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Plan on watching from at least a block or two away. There will be fewer people back there, too, so you’ll be able to enjoy the show more comfortably.

What About the Non-Sound Risks at Celebrations?

Noise is only one of several concerns. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them 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? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?

Don’t expose yourself to permanent hearing damage for a once a year celebration. 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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