As Americans enjoy fireworks displays as part of their Fourth of July festivities, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reminds everyone that they can take a few simple steps to prevent potentially lifelong consequences of unsafe hearing behaviors.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from overexposure to loud noises at work or during leisure activities. Hearing loss can occur gradually over time, but it can also result from a single exposure to an intense sound. Children and others may be particularly vulnerable to this risk. While hearing loss can often be prevented, there is no way to reverse it.
To prevent noise-induced hearing loss this holiday, keep in mind a few simple tips:
1) Wear Earplugs. Inexpensive and easy to use, earplugs offer excellent protection during loud events. It is key that these earplugs fit properly. For young children, earmuffs are also a good option.
2) Keep Your Distance. Maintain a healthy distance from fireworks, firecrackers, speaker systems, and other sources of loud noise.
3) Know “How Loud is Too Loud.” Sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before hearing loss can occur. Noise from exploding fireworks can top 130 decibels; it's been shown that exposure to 105 decibels for one hour can put you at risk for hearing damage. 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.”
4) Educate Yourself About Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. A variety of resources provide helpful information on hearing loss and protection; check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s “Listen to Your Buds” campaign and the National Institutes of Health’s “It’s a Noisy Planet.”
Summer is an important time to keep hearing protection on the front burner. With abundant leisure time during these months, children may be spending more time listening to personal audio devices, attending concerts, and engaging in other activities that put their hearing at risk.
If you suspect you or someone in your family may be suffering from hearing loss, get a hearing evaluation. To find an audiologist in your area, visit www.asha.org/findpro/.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 166,000 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. Visit www.asha.org for additional information.