So the Fourth is Coming. Reconsider the Fireworks and Your Ears Will Thank You

So the Fourth is coming and people are very excited, especially in my town where we haven't had them for budget reasons for several years.

But this year they're ba-aack and residents can't wait.  However, there's just one small thing.  They can damage your hearing.

According to, a new study has found that fireworks, construction and being in a marching band can cause to lose hearing permanently.

I come from a family where both my mother and grandmother went deaf at early ages.  My grandmother, who was a concert pianist, never learned sign language so she and my mother never had a conversation till my mom was 16 -- when she finally got a hearing aid.

I recently took a hearing test and scored "slightly below normal."  They didn't really need to tell me because I already knew, having trouble hearing people sometimes with soft voices in a noisy background.  In my case, it's probably age!

But the study found that outdoor concerts, parades, 4th of July fireworks, public transportation and construction sites all have high decibels of noise.

"Once hearing is damaged, it cannot be repaired,” the Web site quotes Jyoti Bhayani, a certified audiologist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. And headphones are in there, too. “Hearing aids have yet to become status symbols so young people need to wise up and turn the volume down on their earbuds.”

One in 10 Americans has hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech. Aging is the most common cause of this condition. However, exposure to excessive noise also can damage hearing in higher pitches.

The other day my son said he heard a buzzing sound.  Try as I might, I could not hear it.   (I'm still not sure he wasn't just trying to spook me!)

“Hearing loss due to excessive noise is totally preventable, unlike hearing loss due to old age or a medical condition,” Dr. Bhayani says.

Here are the registered levels for common sounds*:
30 decibels - soft whisper
50 decibels - rain
60 decibels - normal conversation/computer typing
70 decibels - expressway traffic
85 decibels - earplugs recommended for prolonged exposure at this level
90 decibels - subway, lawnmower, shop tools
100 decibels - chainsaw, snowmobile, drill
110 decibels - power saw
115 decibels - loud rock concert, sandblasting, car horn
130 decibels - race car
150 decibels - fireworks/jet engine takeoff
170 decibels - shotgun
*American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

What matters most is the intensity of the noise.

“When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear,” Dr. Bhayani explained. “The louder a noise, the longer the exposure, and the closer you are to the noise source, the more damaging it is to your nerve endings, or your hearing.” As the number of nerve endings decreases due to damage, so does your hearing. Nerve endings cannot be healed or regenerated and the damage is permanent.

And headphones? Use of ear bud headphones may be damaging your child’s hearing. “Three in five Americans, especially youth, are prone to develop hearing loss due to loud music being delivered via ear buds,” said Dr. Bhayani.

My son may soon be joining me as his earphones have grown out of his head.  


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