Fireworks and Your Hearing

Fireworks and Your Hearing
By: Wendy Ray

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --It's that time of year, firework stands are officially open across the Heartland and a lot of people can't wait to buy them and set them off. M

ost of us know the proper respect we should give fireworks because they can be dangerous, but there's a serious health hazard you may not have even thought of. Fireworks can cause serious damage to your hearing. You might be thinking this won't happen to me, but doctors say think again!
Audiologist Steve Brown says, "Some people are left with not only permanent hearing loss but ringing 24 hours a day." Those are the harsh consequences of noise caused by fireworks. Dr. Brown says in most cases hearing loss is a result of people being careless, but sometimes it's purely accidental. "We witness that every year, at least one if not more experience sudden onset or permanent hearing loss because of noise trauma caused by fireworks," he says. Noise from fireworks can cause you to lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds. It will also make things sound muffled. "Any noise level above 120 decibels measured in sounds pressure potentially causes damage to the cochlea area of the ear. Fireworks are estimated to be 125 to 155 decibels," Dr. Brown says.

Don't worry, sitting outside watching fireworks in most cases, won't hurt your hearing. Just remember to keep your time outside around fireworks to a minimum, moderation is key. You can always wear ear plugs, you can find them just about anywhere. Remember to also keep your distance. Mike Smith of Cape Girardeau is sure to keep his distance from fireworks. "If I'm close enough sometimes it can hurt my ears, but I try not to get that close," he says.

People under the age of 25 are three times more likely to suffer hearing loss from fireworks, and men are three times more at risk than women.