MAYWOOD, Ill. (July 2, 2014) – You’ve packed the sunscreen and bug spray to protect your little ones while enjoying a Fourth of July celebration, but many parents don’t think about the potential damage that loud fireworks can do to a young child’s ears.
“Fireworks can be harmful to a child’s ears. It is rare, but I have seen problems such as hearing loss and a tympanic membrane perforation,” said Laura Swibel Rosenthal, MD, a surgeon with the Pediatric Otolaryngology department at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the departments of Otolarynology and Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
The noise from fireworks can reach 130-190 decibels. According to the World Health Organization, children should not be exposed to anything more than 140 decibels. One of best ways to protect a child’s hearing is to view them at a distance, Swibel Rosenthal said.
“The farther away you are, the less impact the fireworks will have on a child’s hearing. Sit at least 500 feet away from where the fireworks are launched. Also, consider purchasing noise reduction headphones, which can help protect a child’s hearing,” Swibel Rosenthal said.
Though most of the injuries she’s seen have resolved on their own, she warned parents to be cautious about the risk and to think about their own hearing safety as well.
“The mild hearing loss is usually temporary and eardrum perforations often heal on their own. Still, surgery is sometimes required,” Swibel Rosenthal said. “Loud noises like fireworks are dangerous for adults as well as kids. Exposure to loud sounds over time can have a cumulative effect on hearing so protect your kids’ ears to keep them hearing in the future.”