With Bonfire night approaching, it is beneficial to be aware of the permanent risks of noise-induced hearing damage that can easily be prevented.
Our audiology team sees far too many patients whose hearing loss has been self-inflicted. Half of all cases of hearing loss are actually avoidable through primary prevention. While hearing loss can occur gradually over time, single exposure pressures as intense as a firework can result in tinnitus, eardrum perforation and temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Although thrilling, the sound output produced by fireworks can reach up 150 to 175 decibels (dB). The World Health Organisation recommends that adults not be exposed to more than 140 decibels and 120 decibels for children, these statistics speak for themselves!
There are measures that you can take to prevent damage from exposure to this level of sound:
Maintain a safe distance - The further you are from the sound, the less harmful the sound is to your ears. In terms of decibel level and hearing safety, a distance of around 500 feet will still give you a great view of any fireworks, but ensures the sound pressure that can damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear is of less risk.
- Know your limits – The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before hearing loss can occur. Have you noticed headaches or fatigue? Ringing or a ‘plugged’ sensation in the ears? Unfortunately, this means you may have experienced symptoms of damaged hearing. It is important to be aware of your ears, and move away when noise gets too much.
There’s an app for that! - Did you know that there are various smartphone apps such as ‘Decibel X’ which can measure sound levels for you? This is an excellent tool to gage how loud is too loud and when you should take measures to protect yourself.
Quieter fireworks - All fireworks come with a noise rating, so if you are putting on your own fireworks display at home, selecting a quieter firework will not only go down well with the neighbours but will also protect your hearing too.
Protect your hearing – No matter what measures you take to lessen the effects of loud noises, the most effective is going to be primary protection of your ears. Using hearing protection, such as ear plugs, decreases the intensity of sounds and can help prevent hearing loss.
The Hearing Care Centre offers a wide range of earplugs which can be custom made to fit your ear perfectly and can be reusable. The tight seal dramatically reduces the high noise levels you are exposed to, and filters block out 25dB of ambient noise, but still allow you to communicate easily. For children we also supply ear defenders which fit on the head like headphones and provide a more comfortable solution to hearing care.
Some may think that considering hearing care can be an inconvenience when you are trying to enjoy yourself, but taking measures of protection actually means that you can enjoy yourself more without being concerned about the potential risks. Any of these steps taken are steps in the right direction towards excellent hearing care which will reduce the risk of any permanent future damage. Visit our shop to see our whole range of noise protection.