Ten million Americans have suffered hearing damage due to noise. Many think the irreversible hearing loss caused from noise only occurs with exposure over time, such as with factory or farm machinery. However, nothing could be further from the truth. A noise-induced hearing loss can also occur from one sudden blast of sound….even from a single firecracker.
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, consumption of fireworks in the United States has risen dramatically over the past decade, from 152.2 million pounds in 2000 to over 207.5 million pounds in 2012. As more and more Americans come into contact with fireworks, it becomes increasingly important that people follow sound safety measures, including wearing hearing protection.
Ear Plugs Can Help Protect Your Hearing
Most firecrackers produce sounds starting at 125 dB (decibels) in loudness, which is 40dB above what is considered to be safe. Our best advice is for you to leave the fireworks to the professionals and sit a comfortable distance from the display, where you can enjoy the colors, lights, and sounds, but not expose yourself or your family to the loud noises. To protect your hearing, make sure you are wearing ear plugs and that they are securely in place before the show begins. And be sure to keep them in for the entire show.
Disposable ear plugs are practical, inexpensive, comfortable, and readily available. Disposable ear plugs are made of a soft foam or silicone material and are typically available at local pharmacies and sporting goods stores. These ear plugs come in adult and children’s sizes. It is very important that you purchase the correct size of ear plugs for your family in order for them to work as they should. With a snug fit, disposable ear plugs are effective in adequately blocking out dangerously loud sounds. However, if they do not fit or are not inserted correctly, disposable ear plugs cannot provide the amount of protection stated on the packaging, and may not protect your hearing at all.
Custom-Made Ear Plugs
Custom-made ear plugs are the best choice for those who need daily or frequent hearing protection. Custom ear plugs are laboratory-made from a mold of your ear taken by a trained audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. They are available in a wide variety of colors and materials, from very soft silicones to harder acrylics. The advantage of the softer ear plugs is that they change shape slightly as your ear canal changes shape when talking or chewing, thereby continuing to seal during those activities.
Being custom-made, ear plugs molded to your ear are comfortable for extended periods of use. In addition, these ear plugs can be tuned with special filters, venting, handles and cords to target specific activities. For example, an ear plug made for a musician to use in a concert or on stage would be made to filter much differently than an ear plug made for a motorcycle enthusiast, hunter, or race car driver. Also, depending on the activity the custom-made ear plug is designed for, most can be made to where you can hear speech and music while protecting your hearing from the loud sounds that are harmful.
Celebrate smart this holiday! Prevention is the key to preserving our hearing. The best way to protect your hearing is to avoid excessively loud noise. When you know you will be exposed to loud noises, like fireworks, wear hearing protection. By following these simple precautions for your 4th of July celebrations, you can enjoy the Independence Day festivities AND protect your hearing!
Free Hearing Screening
For more information or to schedule an appointment for a Free Hearing Screening, contact The Jackson Hearing Center at 731-660-5511.
The Dangers and Signs of Loud Noise Exposure:
• You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area
• You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise.
• You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise, you can hear people talking but cannot understand them.