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The biggest risk for hearing loss is not the professional fireworks displays, but the home fireworks that people use themselves to celebrate, says Brian J. Fligor, AuD. (From left) Hailey Bayne, Maddie Simerly and Taylor Slama watch fireworks being set off in a street near Fletcher Avenue in celebration of Independence Day on July 4, 2014.

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, when families and friends gather to witness spectacular fireworks displays. Noise from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. To put this into perspective, this is louder than a jet plane taking off (150 decibels) or a jackhammer. The American Academy of Audiology cautions that exposure to fireworks can significantly impact hearing loss.

“The biggest risk is NOT the professional fireworks displays, but the backyard fireworks people use themselves to celebrate," explains Brian J. Fligor, AuD. "Never hold a firework, with the intention to throw it before it explodes. Even if you do throw it in time (to avoid injury to your hands and face), if it is anywhere close to you when it explodes, your hearing can be immediately, permanently damaged.”

Some signs of hearing loss may include:

• Ringing, buzzing or hissing noises in the ear after the fireworks noise goes off.

• Muffled hearing after the fireworks.

• Suddenly having to turn up the volume of the television, radio or stereo and having other family members complain that the volume is too loud.

• Difficulty understanding people speaking to you and asking people to repeat themselves.

• Difficulty with phone conversations and understanding the other person.

• Sudden inability to hear the door bell, the dog barking and other household sounds.

• People telling you that you speak too loudly.

• Ringing in the ears.

• Ear pain.

“Children are at particular risk for hearing loss from ‘backyard’ fireworks displays, because of their excitement and curiosity, wishing to be close to the activity,” warned Brian J. Fligor, AuD.

School-aged children with hearing loss will sometimes exhibit poor school performance because they can’t understand the teacher assignments or classroom interactions. If hearing loss has been present from a young age, they often don’t recognize the loss and can’t identify the problem.

The American Academy of Audiology recommends that anyone experiencing the above symptoms should make an appointment with an audiologist.


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