Danny W. Gnewikow, PhD, FAAA
Audiologist, CCC
Founder & Chief Audiologist

 

Danville, VA
(434) 799-6288

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Danny Gnewikow

BEWARE OF THE LOUD SOUNDS OF SUMMER & 4th OF JULY FIREWORKS! Better Hearing Institute Urges

“Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss,” says Sandra Romano, Doctor of Audiology “Both the loudness of the noise and the length of time you’re exposed to it matter. But by taking some simple measures, people can protect their hearing while still enjoying their summer activities.”

simple tips:

  • Use earplugs: When you know you will be exposed to loud sounds, use earplugs. Disposable earplugs, made of foam or silicone, are typically available at local pharmacies. They are practical because you still can hear music and the conversation of those around you when you have them in your ears. But when they fit snuggly, they are effective in adequately blocking out dangerously loud sounds.  
  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals:  When watching the show, stay a safe distance away—where you can enjoy the colors and lights, but not expose yourself and your family to loud noises. To protect your hearing, make sure you are wearing earplugs and that they are securely in place before the show begins. And be sure to keep them in for the entire show.
  • Keep the volume down: When listening to smartphones and MP3 players, keep them at a low volume. Importantly, limit your use of headphones and earbuds.
  • Limit your time in noisy environments: Do all you can to limit the length of time you spend in a noisy environment. And when you do participate in noisy activities, alternate them with periods of quiet.
  • Visit your local Audiologist: An Audiologist can provide a hearing test to determine your baseline hearing level and determine if you have any hearing loss that should be addressed.

“We often take our hearing for granted,” says Romano. “But the truth is that hearing loss, especially when left unaddressed, affects our quality of life. Hearing is a significant connection to the world, and we should do all we can to protect it.”

How Noise Damages Our Hearing

We hear sound when delicate hair cells in our inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. But just as we can overload an electrical circuit, we also can overload these vibrating hair cells. Loud noise damages these delicate hair cells, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing of the ears). The cells that are the first to be damaged or die are those that vibrate most quickly–those that allow us to hear higher-frequency sounds clearly, like the sounds of birds singing and children speaking.

Loudness is measured in decibels, with silence measuring at 0 dB. Any noise above 85 dB is considered unsafe. Most firecrackers produce sounds starting at 125 dB, presenting the risk of irreversible ear damage. Repeated exposure to loud noise, over an extended period of time, presents serious risks to hearing health as well. If you have to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within arm's length, the noise is probably in the dangerous range.

Here Are Other Warning Signs:

·         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.

 

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