As the 5th November approaches thoughts turn to bonfires and fireworks, but this part of the year is also a good time to think about protecting your hearing.
Firework displays often produce extremely high levels of noise, which can lead to problems with
your hearing. Noise damage occurs when hair cells inside the ear that transmit impuls- es to the brain are impacted. Once damaged, these cells cannot regrow, meaning that excessive noise can cause permanent change to your hearing levels.
Noise damage can be triggered by prolonged exposure to high volumes, or even one instance of extremely loud sound. The World Health Organisation recommends that adults are not exposed to sounds over 140 decibels, and 120db for children, due to their thinner skulls increasing the risk of noise damage. Standing within 3 feet of fireworks can expose you to sound levels of around 150 db – the same volume as a jet engine!
If you have ever noticed ringing in your ears or dulled hearing after a concert or a firework event, it may be that you experienced temporary threshold shift. These symptoms are the side effects of noise damage, and usually go away within a day or two. Continuous exposure to noise, or even one very loud sound, can make this change in hearing permanent. Difficulty understanding speech, particularly in background noise, as well as tinnitus can be indications of permanent noise damage. It is best to have a hearing test every year to keep aware of any potential change in your hearing levels.
The best thing you can do however is to come prepared. There are several types of ear protection that could help to reduce the excessive noise levels. Disposable ear plugs are made from foam and are designed to physically block the ears. Although they are the most basic option, they are better than leaving your ears unprotected. Customised ear protection is fitted at Aston Hearing, and is a good option for people who are regularly exposed to noise. These noise plugs are designed to fit the unique shape of an individual’s ear canals, and are durable and effective at reducing the loudest noises whilst enabling you to have conversations at a normal level.
For children, Aston Hearing provide ear defenders in a range of colours that are comfortable and help to ease children’s
sensitivity to very loud sounds. Although children do have a higher risk of noise damage, with the right precautions in place there is no reason for them to miss out on all the fun on bonfire night.