Now that the weather is warm you probably have your schedule filled with parties and other plans. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everybody you know will be outside enjoying. Parades, marching bands, and live music are commonly part of the fun, and let’s not forget fireworks! There is no cause to stay at home and lose out on the good times, but take a second to consider how you might take care of your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on around 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s sad that this type of hearing damage is pretty much 100 percent avoidable. All you need is a little planning and good sense. Give consideration to some examples of why you should really take care of your hearing as you celebrate this season and how to do it.
Because Fireworks are the Most Harmful
With all the potential dangers that come with fireworks, hearing damage tops the list. Experts frequently warn people about burns or fires, but usually don’t say much about hearing damage.
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. Fireworks typically range from 150 to 175 decibels. Even though adults may endure up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only handle short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Fireworks are commonly louder than both those numbers.
The good news? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are 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. Children should be 70 yards away to take care of their hearing and babies shouldn’t be there at all.
You Really Love Live Music
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. 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.
Then There are the People
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 claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will probably be higher and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
Use Common Sense When Celebrating
What can you do to protect your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you might think. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
You can make some practical choices based on what you expect from the celebration. 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.
You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. The nature of fireworks means you can enjoy them without being in the front row. 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
Hearing Damage is not the Only Risk of the Summer
There is more to talk about here than just sound. Hot sun, not enough water, excessive drinking, and fatigue also can be a concern. These things can make hearing loss or tinnitus worse.
Try not to overdo it. Maybe consider starting a bit later if you plan on partying into the night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Is there a shady spot around? Are you anywhere near a public building with air conditioning?
Celebrations come and go but your ears are a one time deal. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to protect 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.