Fireworks boom can cause hearing loss

ear noise
(File, MGN Online)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People love fireworks. But the noise they make can seriously damage your ears.

“I think what most people don’t realize is that you can have acoustic trauma that one loud noise can cause hearing damage,” said Providence audiologist Christi Sperry.

Dr. Christi Sperry is an audiologist at Providence, July 3, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Dr. Christi Sperry is an audiologist at Providence, July 3, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

She told KOIN 6 News they see more people who come in after the 4th of July reporting hearing loss or a ringing in their ears.

Staying a good distance away from firecrackers is the safest way to go, she said.

“Children should not be left unattended around firecrackers, of course,” Sperry said. “Distance is the greatest friend. The further you can get your child away from the fireworks for safety, not just for hearing, but physical safety, too.”

Sounds at or above 85 decibels could cause hearing loss. The farther away you get, the lower the decibel level. Some fireworks displays reach 130 decibels.

Ear plugs are a good idea, she said. Headphones are best when you’re going to be around the fireworks.

If you get ringing in your ears, Dr. Sperry said you should monitor how long it lasts. That will determine if you need to see an audiologist.

“For some people, they can experience a temporary loss of hearing,” she said. “With acoustic trauma, you might experience loud ringing in the ears. It might get better after a few days.”

Disposable ear plugs, available at many retail outlets, are the most practical because you can still hear the music and the conversation around you.

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