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Can Fireworks Damage My Hearing

With 2019 only hours away, millions of people around Australia will be converging on the major cities to get the best vanatage point to see the amazing fireworks display their city has to offer.  If you’ve ever experienced this, time stands still and seconds last for minutes while the ever present fireworks displays pierce the night sky. Sound Amazing?

Well as far as looks are concerned, fireworks definitely look amazing. Sound is a different kettle of fish and is what this article is concerned with.  In recent times, researches and Audiologist alike have raised the profile of the need to protect one’s ears from excessive loud noise.  If you have ever been to a rock concert you will know what I’m talking about.

In fact research shows that any sound from about 85 decibels and above will start to damage our ears. As the level of sound increases above this level, the accumulative damage occurs over a shorter period of time.  In other words, 100 decibels of noise exposure will do the same damage as 85 decibels over a shorter period of time.  So the question I hear you asking yourself: will the fireworks display damage my hearing?

Well firstly, if you are concerned, the easiest way to still enjoy the night’s festivities is to bring along some plugs (which you can get from the chemist).

The best thing to do (too late for tonight) but to get custom ear plugs made from an Audiologist which can attenuate sound by up to 30-40 decibels across all frequencies.

The truth of the matter is yes, fireworks are loud enough to do damage to the fine structures of your inner ear including the finite number of inner and outer hair cells within the cochlear. Distance is a HUGE part to play and the greater the distance the less damage you can expect.

The World Health Organization says that hearing loss from loud noise (or noise induced hearing loss) is reaching epidemic proportions in wealthier nations and recommend that adults avoid sounds louder than 140 decibels of maximum sound pressure.

Fireworks and firecrackers can exceed 150 decibels. As we just mentioned, sounds from about 85 decibels will start doing accumulative damage although louder sounds will do instant irreversible damage to your ears.

Here are a few more tips to protect your hearing tonight:

  • Try to find a vantage point that is at least 100m from the fireworks display (the greater the distance the better).
  • Wear hearing protection throughout the fireworks display (and at the night club afterwards)
  • Protect children’s ears including young infants (for the earlier fireworks displays).

For more information about hearing loss, please visit this website here.  There is also a website that can tell you if your current lifestyle is doing damage to your hearing at knowyournoise.nal.gov.au

If you feel you have damaged your hearing due to loud noise, the best thing to do is get a thorough hearing assessment.

Stay safe and wishing everyone a healthy and awesome 2019.

keywords: noise induced hearing loss, custom ear plugs, fireworks, tinnitus, ringing ears, unsafe noise, NYE