The warm weather season is here, and your agenda is probably already packed with lots of parties and activities. It’s almost The Fourth of July and nearly everyone you know will be outdoors enjoying. You love to attend concerts, parades, marching bands, and of course-fireworks. When going out to have fun this holiday season, don’t pass up on the good times, just take a moment to carefully consider how you should take care of your hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss affects nearly 6 percent of the U.S. adult populace under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. It’s unfortunate that this type of hearing damage is just about 100 percent preventable. All you need is a little planning and common sense. Consider some reasons you really should protect your hearing as you celebrate this season and how to do it.
Fireworks are the Summers Worst Hearing Risks.
There are many potential dangers of fireworks but hearing damage tops the list. 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. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. Even though adults may tolerate up to 140 decibels for a short time, children can only take short periods at 120 decibels. This is according to the World Health Association. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
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.
Because You 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. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. Most of the time a live concert is much longer than that.
And Let’s not Forget About the Crowds
The most underestimated danger for hearing damage is crowd noise. When the crowd is into the celebration everyone 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 most likely be louder and more consistent at a celebration or parade.
Mix Celebratory Fun with a Little Good Sense
What can you do to protect your ears? It’s a lot more common sense than you may think. Try to determine what the hearing risk is before the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
What precautions you take depends on how loud you think the celebration will be. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. If you still want to hear what’s 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. 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. Is there a shady spot around? Can you get access to an air-conditioned building?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. Do what you must to keep them safe while still enjoying the good times. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.