Fourth of July: How to Protect Your Kid's Ears | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Loyola pediatric otolaryngologist gives tips for protecting kids’ ears

MAYWOOD, IL – They’ve packed the sunscreen and bug spray to protect their little ones while enjoying a Fourth of July celebration, but many parents don’t think about the potential damage that the 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, pediatric otolaryngologist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the departments of Otolarynology and Pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Fireworks shows can produce 130-190 decibels of sound. The World Health Organization recommends children not be exposed to any noise louder than 140 decibels. According to Dr. Swibel Rosenthal, one of best ways to protect a child’s hearing is to keep a large distance between the child and the fireworks.

“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 earplugs or headphones, which can help protect a child’s hearing,” Dr. Swibel Rosenthal said.

Though most of the injuries she’s seen have resolved on their own, she warns parents to take the danger seriously and to think about their own hearing safety as well. She also warns there is no surgery to fix hearing loss from noise exposure and encourages parents to be proactive in keeping their littles ones safe from exposure to loud noises.

“The feeling of aural fullness and mild hearing loss that most of us have experienced immediately after recreational noise exposure is usually temporary. But exposure to loud sounds over time can have a cumulative and permanent effect on hearing, so protect your kids’ ears now to keep them hearing in the future,” said Dr. Swibel Rosenthal.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.