As the Fourth of July holiday draws near and the planning of celebrations begin, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reminds the public of the importance of protecting one's hearing from loud noises, especially fireworks.
Although hearing loss is often believed to be an issue that progresses over time, it can also be caused by an instantaneous loud noise. Hearing loss due to exposure to intense sounds has become more prevalent in today's society. Approximately 15% of Americans ages 20–69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to noise. Taking simple steps to protect the hearing of all family members can prevent potentially lifelong consequences.
"July 4th is a wonderful opportunity for revelry, but we must ensure that our hearing health does not fall prey to our desire to celebrate," said ASHA President Elizabeth McCrea. "By taking a few easy, preventive measures, all people can commemorate the holiday and safeguard their hearing health."
ASHA offers these hearing protection tips this Fourth of July:
- Keep a safe distance. Noise from exploding fireworks can reach as high as 155 decibels, and if you are located close to the blasts, there is greater risk for immediate, sudden, and permanent hearing loss. Maintain a healthy distance (at least 500 feet) from fireworks, fire crackers, speaker systems, and other sources of loud noise.
- Wear earplugs. Ear plugs are an inexpensive and easy way to protect your hearing during loud events. Make sure your ear plugs fit snugly. For children under 7 or 8 years old, use ear muffs.
- Know your limits. Sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before hearing loss can occur. Various phone applications can measure sound, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are "too loud" and "too close" or that last "too long." If you notice ringing or buzzing in your ears, move farther away from the noise source.
- Seek professional help. If you feel that your hearing may have been affected, seek the help of a certified audiologist. Find a professional in your area at www.asha.org/profind/.
For more information on noise-induced hearing loss, visit www.asha.org/public/hearing/Hearing-Loss/.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 173,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. www.asha.org/